2011 has certainly gotten off to a solid start for our local economic outlook, with two substantial announcements that will have reverberations across South Jersey. New potential jobs number in the thousands in two key industries: gaming and aviation. Add in the renewed commitments from established businesses across the region, there is justification for South Jersey to be cautiously optimistic.
Last week's signing of legislation by New Jersey Governor Christie to create a tourism district anchored by gaming and entertainment allows Atlantic City to begin its transformation into the resort destination we all know it can and should be. Furthermore, with financing for the new $2 billion Revel casino project potentially being finalized in the coming days, optimism for redevelopment of the entire South Inlet neighborhood is growing. Both of these developments represent a critical investment which will greatly expand the tax base for the city, ensure tax dollars remain in Atlantic City for future improvements and investments, and create thousands of jobs for residents across South Jersey.
Just a week prior, I joined with representatives of the FAA Technical Center in Egg Harbor Township to detail the week-long visit of aviation industry leaders such as Boeing, General Dynamics, Booz Allen Hamilton and ITT to our local facility. While here, they were briefed on current projects underway, including the critically-important modernization project known as the Next Generation Aviation Transportation System. Impressed by what they saw and seeking to get a piece of more than $4.3 billion in federal contracts already announced, these companies are looking to partner with the FAA on the NEXTGEN project.
Thus, what this means for South Jersey is further progress on establishing a "silicon valley-type" excellence for aviation research and development in our backyard. Built upon the reputation of the FAA Tech Center and its employees in conjunction with the upcoming ground-breaking of the NEXTGEN Aviation Research & Technology Park (www.nextgenaviationpark.org), progress is quickly being made towards our shared goal and achieving the real potential for creating 2,000 high-paying jobs locally.
In addition to these outstanding developments, several long-established businesses have decided to keep their operations in South Jersey while looking to potentially expand their local investment and workforce. From planned additional hiring at DS Distribution in Swedesboro and South Jersey Healthcare, to continuing operations at Mannington Mills in Salem and NJM Insurance Group in Hammonton, many of our businesses remain confident in our region's economic outlook and are demonstrating their commitment to our communities.
As I have said before, to move in the right direction we need to create certainty by promoting pro-business policies that encourage hiring and capital investments. Consequently, significant capital investments breed more confidence for small and medium-sized businesses to also expand. We are already seeing the positive repercussions of the developments from the past few weeks. While we still have a long way to go to reducing South Jersey's unemployment rates and growing our region's economy, we've certainly started 2011 off on the right foot.