Camden Community Partnership celebrates 40 years

Four decades ago in Camden, a private nonprofit corporation dedicated to planning and implementing high-quality urban redevelopment projects launched. Now known as the Camden Community Partnership, the organization held a special reception on the waterfront to mark the 40th anniversary of its founding in 1984.

“It is truly an honor to serve as a representative of an organization deeply ingrained in the community, provides valuable services to the city and, most importantly, has earned the trust of Camden’s residents,” CCP CEO and President Dana Redd said. “Bringing together founding and current board members, alongside key businesses, nonprofits and community stakeholders, provided us with an opportunity to reflect on CCP’s achievements over the past four decades while also looking ahead to the future, as we facilitate transformative change in the city of Camden.”

CCP was founded in 1984 as Cooper’s Ferry Development Association. Its founding partners included the city of Camden, Cooper Hospital/University Medical Center, Rutgers University – Camden, Campbell Soup Co. and RCA.

From 1984 until 2000, CFDA worked to fulfill its mission by concentrating on the redevelopment of the downtown Waterfront. Serving as the lead urban planner, promoter, special events coordinator and master developer, CDFA attracted and coordinated over $600 million in public- and private-sector investment helping to transform the Camden Waterfront into a tourist destination that attracts over 3 million visitors each year.

“Forty years ago, when what today is the Camden Community Partnership was founded, few would have dared to predict the amazing transformation Camden has undergone in recent years, which is a testament to the hard work and leadership of CCP, its members and state and local leaders,” George E. Norcross III, the chairman of Cooper University Health Care/MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper and executive chairman of Conner Strong & Buckelew, which relocated its national headquarters to Camden a decade ago, said. “CCP’s work may have started on the waterfront, but it has expanded to include rebuilding neighborhoods and public space, supporting improvements in public education and public safety, and implementing a broad array of programs that directly support Camden residents, everything from access to sports for children to jobs and job training for adults. Today’s Camden is stronger, safer and growing because of the work of the Camden Community Partnership.”

In 2000, CFDA made an intentional shift from the downtown Waterfront to begin focusing on the neighborhoods of Camden. The organization created a Neighborhood Initiatives Division tasked with partnering and collaborating with local government, community-based organizations, housing nonprofits and residents throughout Camden to assist in the development of resident-driven neighborhood plans, implementation of revitalization strategies and identifying funding opportunities. Around the same time, the Greater Camden Partnership was formed in 2001 to bring together leaders from the private, public and nonprofit sectors to promote the revitalization of the city of Camden. The organization devised the Downtown Camden Strategic Development Plan, which established the blueprint for anchor institution-led development in Camden.

After a decade of working separately but focusing on the same mission to develop the Waterfront and surrounding neighborhoods, the two organizations merged in 2011 and emerged as Cooper’s Ferry Partnership. The new, single nonprofit corporation focused to create sustainable economic and community development, while promoting Camden as a place in which to live, work, visit and invest.

“Over the span of 40 years, CCP has actively participated in every facet of Camden’s revitalization,” Camden Mayor and CPP co-Chair Victor Carstarphen said. “It’s an honor to collaborate with such an esteemed organization that fundamentally serves as a driving force for fostering and enriching a flourishing Camden community. As the city progresses and the needs of our residents evolve with it, I have full confidence in CCP’s preparedness to meet those demands wholeheartedly.”

Mark McDonough, president of New Jersey American Water and CCP co-chair, expressed: “Being affiliated with an organization that boasts a storied history of enhancing not only the physical environment of a city, but also uplifting the lives of its residents is indeed an honor. I applaud the dedication of both past and present staff and leadership to the organization and the city, and I anticipate further advancements in the years ahead.”

Following the global COVID-19 pandemic, in June 2021, CFP changed its name to Camden Community Partnership Inc. (CCP) to better reflect the organization’s mission, mandate and vision in order to contextualize its brand in the city the organization calls home. The name change is in accordance with the nonprofit’s organizational shift from the initial focus on Waterfront development to the expanded focus on community and economic development efforts throughout the city, particularly in the neighborhoods. CCP is involved in the development and implementation of neighborhood plans, parks, infrastructure and place-making activities throughout Camden.

“The Camden Community Partnership has been a true asset by assisting elected leadership, stakeholders and private business attain and achieve objectives to build a better city,” Camden County Commissioner Director Louis Cappelli Jr. said. “It’s hard to believe that the organization is turning 40 because, in that short period of time, they have already left quite a legacy. And I know CEO Redd continues to build upon that legacy each every day for the long-term benefit of the residents of Camden.”

Today, CCP continues to advance its mission to serve as a catalyst for the preservation and growth of a vibrant Camden, by facilitating high-quality urban redevelopment projects in the city. The organization is “driven by progress, and focused on equity,” bringing together various stakeholders, including community leaders, residents, employers, educators and nonprofit organizations, to implement a comprehensive approach to the revitalization of Camden. With a strong emphasis on putting residents first, CCP focuses on essential areas such as housing, public safety, infrastructure, transportation, education, neighborhood initiatives, park and green space development and employment opportunities.