The speaker was Tom Carver, executive director of the CasinoReinvestment Development Authority, a state agency that, bystatute, invests casino-generated money into development projectsaround the state. The audience, here yesterday, was a conference onSoutheast New Jersey's economy co-sponsored by PlanSmart NJ, aTrenton-based regional planning organization, and Richard StocktonCollege.

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Despite the rosy growth outlook, "we are faced with a dynamic,proactive private sector, but an inactive public sector," Carvertold the audience of planners, government officials and others. "Ifwe don't take the next step and become a true international resort,we will not succeed vs. the competition around us. We need a systemto make it happen," he said, pointing to such challenges as atransportation master plan, housing and home rule.

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And besides casino/resort development, one of the focal pointsfor that growth figures to be Atlantic City International Airport.Emphasizing that potential, Sharon Gordon of the South JerseyTransportation Authority, which operates the airport, pointed outthat the land area occupied by the facility is the equivalent ofall of Philadelphia and Newark Liberty international airports, plus60% of LaGuardia Airport all rolled into one.

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"We are trying to be a solution to the region's capacityproblems," she said, pointing at an effort to woo passengers fromPhiladelphia and Newark, but admitting that AC International isunderserved. Just two airlines, Spirit and Delta, currently havescheduled service there.

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But preparing to pave the way for future growth in service,Gordon listed a number of expansion projects at the facilitytotaling more than $130 million. She also pointed out that ACInternational, with its 10,000-foot runways, is an alternatelanding site for NASA's space shuttle. The runway system is alsoshared with a wing of the famed New Jersey Air National Guard,which has its installation on the opposite side of the sprawlingproperty.

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"We believe that we are a catalyst for economic development,"Gordon said, specifically noting the amount of land under theauthority's aegis.

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But with rapid growth come concerns about regional planning andcontrolling sprawl. Noting that her organization is involved withsolving such problems as job losses, traffic, urban distress,increasing costs and taxes, crumbling infrastructure and more, "allthese issues are not just interconnected," Dianne Brake, presidentof host PlanSmart NJ told attendees. "They're inseparable. Andland-use planning underlies all of these conditions."

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In the absence of clear goals at the state and regional leveladding, "that's the agenda for this organization," she said."Coordination is the key, and we must plan for it all, pulling itall together under the 'smart growth' agenda," Brake said.

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The basis, according to Brake, is what she termed "4-EPlanning." The four "E's" are economy, environment, efficiency andequity, the latter referring to social justice.

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