Why Vegas Prospers While Atlantic City Shrivels

Summer is drawing to an end, and with it, the height of tourist season. But some of the doors closing on Atlantic City’s boardwalk won’t reopen come next Memorial Day.

The Showboat Casino Hotel and Revel, one casino a 27-year-old institution and the other only two years old, have both shut down for good. Trump Plaza is slated to join them, and the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel closed last January. The Trump Taj Mahal is reportedly in precarious shape as well.

The conventional wisdom is that the Boardwalk Empire is struggling today because of competition from expanded gambling elsewhere in the Northeast. That is certainly a factor. The days of Atlantic City’s regional monopoly are over for good, and the effects are self-evident. The Washington Post has reported that the city’s overall casino revenues are at around half of where they were in 2006. (1)

But if increased competition were the entire explanation, the struggle would be more widespread. Casinos have spread from a few pioneering and out of the way locations to urban areas, such as Baltimore or Philadelphia, nationwide. The gambling industry as a whole is chugging along well enough.

Gambling, and the other diversions casinos provide, are components of the entertainment industry; that industry, by its nature, creates hours of amusement, but nothing tangible of lasting value. Although I would personally prefer to spend my time and money at an amusement park than in a room full of slot machines, other people feel differently.

But you cannot build an entire economy off gambling alone. Cities simply can’t live on entertainment, of any sort, without any other underlying economic activity. When you compare Atlantic City to Las Vegas, this principle becomes clear. You would expect expanded gambling venues nationwide to hit Las Vegas as hard, or maybe proportionally harder. But long-term visitor trends say otherwise. Over 39 million people visited Las Vegas in 2013, about 6 million more than visited in 1999. Atlantic City’s visitor total fell by about the same amount over that period.

What, then, is the difference? Las Vegas, although it makes a big part of its living from casinos, doesn’t rely on them exclusively for its success and continued existence. Nevada offers a favorable tax climate and, for those who can stand (or escape) the heat, a favorable living climate too, with only around 4 inches of rain a year. People hold business conferences there. People retire there. People set up their banking or trusts there. Businesses incorporate there.

New Jersey has both a miserable climate for business and a miserable climate for people. Despite a few mild ocean breezes in the summer, it’s mainly a damp, expensive place. And if you leave the casinos, you can’t help but notice the rest of the city is decrepit. It took until 2012 to get a supermarket. Nobody retires to Atlantic City.

Las Vegas isn’t a bigger Atlantic City. Las Vegas is Phoenix with casinos.

The need for Atlantic City to diversify its economy has not been lost on everyone. There is talk of trying to attract a four-year college and expanded retail investment, MarketWatch reported. (2) But a place where 8,000 workers have abruptly lost their jobs and 30 percent of the population lives below the poverty line is one that will face an uphill battle, especially with the headwinds of New Jersey’s overall business climate working against it.

To fix Atlantic City – or, for that matter, other New Jersey cities like Camden or Paterson or Newark – New Jersey’s leaders need to fix what’s actually wrong in the city and, more broadly, in the state. They can’t do anything about the weather, true. But until New Jersey becomes an attractive place to settle, build wealth and enjoy retirement, Atlantic City will never be another Las Vegas.

Sources:

1) The Washington Post, “Atlantic City’s decline continues as Revel, Showboat close up shop”

2) MarketWatch, “Atlantic City: How to save the Boardwalk Empire”

Strategies to Help Your Small Business Succeed in Challenging Times

We have all discovered, again, the only constant is cultural change. Just look around and you will see state and presidential politics on messy display, financial institutions in chaos and Wall Street fluctuating.

This is not the first, nor will it be the last time that we see these ups and downs.

However, you may need different tactics and strategies to help your small business prosper as some small business owners have never been through a downturn.

The most important decision is to determine if you want to stay in business. I know there are lots of talking heads on TV and radio saying it’s time to put your dream on hold that your dream is no longer available, that you may want to consider finding a breadline.

How dare these multimillionaires, sometimes billionaires, tell you how to live your life. They have no experience, for the most part, of how an ordinary person wants to have their American dream.

Strategic Thinking to Help You Prosper:

First, commit to stay in business.

Once the decision is made to either start or stay in business, you will find yourself attracting all sorts of assistance.

Second, determine the niche for your business.

Remember, the smaller the niche, the higher the reward. To say you work with everyone is a misnomer. You may choose to work with left-handed people who live on the East Coast born after 1975. That is specific. You get the idea.

Third, have better and more positive thoughts.

Ignore the pundits who tell you to close your doors, sell your house, eat dog food and hunker down in your bed. That’s if you did not take their advice and sell your bed! Thoughts lead to action; action leads to results and results lead to success. Bad thoughts breed bad results, good thoughts breed good results. It’s that simple.

Fourth, focus on what you want.

Go for the big fish, not the guppies. If you want to make money, find the people with the money. It continues to surprise me that small business owners keep going back to an empty well. If you have tried with prospects and they have not hired you because they either can’t make up their minds, have no money or are unclear, believe them. Move forward.

Fifth, make sure you are going in the right direction.

Do you have a plan for your business? Do you have a business vision? If not, you will never knew if you are on the right path. Decide what you want out of your business. If you want money from your business, how much? If you want your business to allow you freedom, where and when? Be clear about what you want.

Sixth, Market, Market, Market.

Some small businesses and professionals easily fall off the marketing train when times are tough. This is the time for real marketing. What happens is when people are busy making money, they don’t market because they have all the business they want. Then, when there is a slide, they say they can’t afford to market. Well, you can’t afford not to market. You can market your business in numerous cost free or low cost ways.

a) Be personal with new prospects. Attend Chamber of Commerce meetings to get the lay of the land.

b) Partner with someone else. It can be a one-off or a bigger project.

c) Write articles to attract people to your website.

d) Write a book. You can easily write an e-book in less than thirty days.

e) Sign up for LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

f) Hire an expert to provide an overview of your marketing plan.

Seventh, Change Your Attitude.

It’s all in the attitude! If you focus on and spend time with losers, you are one. Loser, that is. If you spend time with successful people, you to are a success, if by nothing else than association. Choose your circle of friends, associates and peers wisely. Remember, you are the sum of people you spend time with.

Put these new strategies in place for at least thirty days and you will see a movement towards prosperity for you and your small business.

Copyright 2012 Updated All Rights Reserved Worldwide

Atlantic City, an Early Tourism History

People know Atlantic City today as a gambling hotspot. But Atlantic City’s history is much more interesting than a simple slot machine. Atlantic City was incorporated in March of 1854, and that same year the first passenger railroad train made its way down the new line from Philadelphia. The total trip of about 60 miles took 2.5 hours, but by the trip’s end, as the first vacationers stepped off the train and onto the beach, the era of Atlantic City tourism had begun.

After 1860, Atlantic City became one of the hottest vacation destinations in America. Its primary draw – location – made it accessible from several major urban areas, particularly Philadelphia. People from all over would flock to the city’s beaches to enjoy summer activities. At the time, Atlantic City focused its energies on being a health resort. Doctors would even prescribe the city’s “sea air” as a remedy for stress, pain, and even insanity. As the population and tourism grew, the businesses began to expand and move closer to the beach.

There was only one problem with the close proximity to the beach – the beach itself. Merchants were inundated with sand dragged, dropped and deposited in their establishments. In the late 1860s, railroad constructor Andrew Boardman proposed a solution. Along with others, he suggested a walkway that would rise above the sand and allow beachgoers to clean their feet before leaving the beach. On June 26, 1870, the plan was realized – a wooden walkway was completed that separated the beach from the rest of the city. Boardman’s Walk – as it was called – was the world’s first. The name was eventually shortened to “Boardwalk”. Plus, as an official Atlantic City “street”, Boardwalk was (and still is) always spelled with a capital B.

As demand for additional beachfront space rose, the Boardwalk grew. This expansion led to the invention in 1884 of another Atlantic City staple, the rolling chair. A canopied chair designed to be pushed from behind, it made traveling the length of the ever-expanding Boardwalk easier for wealthy vacationers.

Boardwalk real estate became a prime location. All sorts of beachside attractions sprang up, from amusement piers to sideshows to performance theaters to small vendors selling Salt Water Taffy (another Atlantic City first) and more. Steeplechase Pier, Steel Pier, Heinz Pier, the Million Dollar Pier, and others made their glorious debuts in those first few decades of rapid development.

Between 1890 and 1940, Atlantic City’s history becomes less a single chain of events, but rather a series of “oddities” and “firsts.” So much happened in Atlantic City during its heyday: presidents came to speak, magicians dazzled audiences, amusement piers came and went and came again, and countless other bits and pieces of history were made. Atlantic City had razzle-dazzle, craziness, in-your-face showiness, corporate enterprising, and everything in between.

The first picture postcards in the U.S. were views of Atlantic City in 1872. Salt Water Taffy was invented and named there around 1880. The first air-conditioned theater opened in the summer of 1896. Although Chicago holds fame for the first “Ferris Wheel,” it was in 1891 that Williams Somers built an “observational roundabout” on the Boardwalk. It was this wheel ride that was observed and improved upon by George Washington Gale Ferris for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, and it is his name, not Somers’, that is today attached to the ride.

The string of “firsts” continued into the 20th century. In 1915, the first non-subsidized public transportation system, The Atlantic City Jitney, was established. The first passenger airline service made its way through Atlantic City in 1919, the same year that the term “airport” was coined. Of course, the Miss America pageant started here in 1921, and continued here for decades. The first official convention hall opened its doors in Atlantic City in 1929. For golfers, the slang terms “Eagle” and “Birdie” were first used here.

By 1944, the Atlantic City Boardwalk stretched a staggering seven miles down the coast of Absecon Island – ending in Longport, three cities south. However, in the fall of that year, a massive east coast hurricane destroyed most of the Boardwalk, many attractions and several amusement piers. The Boardwalk would eventually be rebuilt to a shorter distance of about 5.75 miles (including the Ventnor section).

The hurricane of 1944 may have been the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back for Atlantic City tourism. Commercial airline travel, popularized in the 1930s and 1940s, was making exotic destinations (such as Florida and the Bahamas) more accessible. There was less need for a local vacation destination, and Atlantic City tourism began its steady decline. By the 1960s, Atlantic City was all but dead. With almost no tourist income, high unemployment, and low population, something needed to be done.

In 1970, a bill was introduced to the New Jersey Assembly suggesting the legalization of gambling statewide as a way to boost Atlantic City’s economy. The bill was rejected and the idea dropped, partly due to pressure from protest groups against the idea of legalized gambling in New Jersey. At that point, the only state in the U.S. with legalized gambling was Nevada (established in the 1930s). Three similar gambling bills were brought to the assembly before it was finally approved in 1976, and only after the bill was modified to allow for gambling exclusively at Atlantic City, and not statewide as the previous proposals had suggested. A mere 18 months later, in May 1978, the first casino in Atlantic City – Resorts International – opened its doors. In the ensuing years, other casinos quickly followed suit, and a new wave of tourism began.