Atlantic City will soon be home of the first 2-year old, $2.4 billion casino that has a sign that reads “Out of Business” on the front doors. This is a problem. And this problem has been spreading for a while now. Revel Casino (closing September 1, 2014) is joined by Trump Plaza (closing September 16, 2014), Showboat (closing August 31, 2014) and the Atlantic Club (closed January 12, 2014). What’s most interesting is that AC doesn’t have any of the characteristics of “Abandoned America” cities and towns. There’s been no lead contamination, no nuclear disaster…only an industry that is being beat by competition. It’s becoming the Detroit of the east.
The difference with AC is that it’s not Detroit. It’s an oceanfront town in the northeast. It’s part of a coastline that has some of the most expensive properties on the planet. Let’s do a quick dissection of AC:
- Completely built-up city
- Tons of housing available around the casinos
- Fabulous restaurants
- Night life
- Gorgeous ocean and bay
- Airport (Atlantic City’s own)
- Train service to NYC (less than 3 hours)
- Train and bus service to Philly (less than 2 hours)
- Farmer’s Markets
- Entertainment (concerts, shows, boxing, movie theaters, miniature golf)
- Convention Center
- And much more
All this and there’s no solution or ideas to rejuvenate this place? Well, we have an idea. With every problem, there’s opportunity. It’s the entrepreneurial mindset. If there wasn’t a problem with oil being expensive, finite and environmentally unfriendly, there may be no Tesla Motors. If burning coal wasn’t harmful to our planet, we wouldn’t have solar and wind power–like the windmills in AC that generate clean energy for NJ. It’s problems that create some of the greatest ideas. So, what can be done with an oceanfront city that’s losing it’s industry? Here’s an idea:
The East Coast’s Next Big Tech Incubator Hub
The infrastructure is all in place. Retired casinos could be the ultimate tech incubators. Imagine a company like Google, GE or American Express owning Revel and turning it into a Google Labs, GE Ventures or AmEx Ventures for new innovation to sprout and blossom. Entrepreneurs could live and work in the casinos with all the hotel rooms as housing, restaurants that could become cafeterias, auditoriums for product pitches and presentations, gambling floors converted in co-working spaces and a view that’ll make Silicon Valley jealous.
Atlantic City could be the ultimate playground for innovation–a dream city for someone like Elon Musk. Sure, NJ doesn’t have the all-year-round weather of CA, but that’ll only create more ideas for fun & amusement for coastal cities in the winter months. What AC does have is an ocean and beaches, a bay and boating, fishing and surfing, kiteboarding and crabbing and an opportunity that could change the a city that’s asking for a new identity. This article is an invitation to Google, GE, American Express, Elon Musk, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Cisco, SAP…the list can go on. Take a leap and make a splash. AC is opportunity.