Twenty one years ago, the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) partnered with New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (HMFA), affordable housing advocates, local dignitaries and developers in an effort to explore and address the need for affordable housing and its inextricable link to attracting and retaining new businesses to the Garden State.
When the Ocean Place Hilton in Long Branch welcomed attendees to the 1996 New Jersey Governor’s Housing Conference in late October, hundreds of New Jersey housing professionals and advocates, non-profit helping organizations, special needs housing representatives, building maintenance and management experts, finance, business and community development professionals as well as government program advisors came out in force for two days of informative breakout sessions and a 61-booth trade show offering related products and services in the Grand Ballroom.
By 2003, DCA and HMFA became the primary host organizers for the Conference, which was billed as the single largest gathering of housing development and property management professionals in the State of New Jersey.
When Chris Christie ascended to the New Jersey Governor’s Office in 2010, the Conference name changed to the Governor’s Conference on Housing and Economic Development, reflecting Governor Christie’s emphasis on promoting job creation and prosperity across the state.
The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) joined the host team in 2012, galvanizing the Conference planning process. EDA boasts a large portfolio of varied programs and services and assists businesses, not-for-profits, municipalities and developers with access to capital. EDA’s influence resulted in a new, inspiring and exciting 2012 Conference, themed “Leading the Way Back Home – The Key to Economic Growth.”
Underscoring Governor Christie’s continued emphasis on growth and economic development, the 2014 Conference, “Restoring Our Past, Building Our Future,” featured sessions offering effective strategies for providing housing opportunities, revitalizing communities and incentivizing economic development.
“New Jersey…Look at Us Now!” reflecting a new brand of energy and excitement, headlined the 2015 Governor’s Conference on Housing and Economic Development in a spectacular new venue -- the opulent Harrah’s Waterfront Conference Center. Touted as the largest hotel-conference center complex from Baltimore to Boston, Harrah’s welcomed hundreds to this once-a-year statewide convergence of industry insiders – funders as well as boots-on-the-ground housing development professionals.
As the Conference celebrates its 20th anniversary, Harrah’s will again serve as the sumptuous venue in 2016 for this valuable professional development opportunity that brings panelists of prominent industry experts speaking on economic development, property management, financing tools and supportive housing, together with those whose day-to-day jobs can make a significant impact on improving the affordable housing and economic development options throughout the state.