Camden, New Jersey, a city of 80,000 located directly across the Delaware River from center-city Philadelphia, is, by any index of urban decay, one of the nation's most distressed urban centers. While severely ineffective, the city houses the essential building blocks of future recovery: branches of four colleges and universities and two major hospitals. A failure to recover during one of the strongest economic upturns in the nation's history, coupled with an unfortunate history of corruption and mismanagement, caused the state legislature to take two extraordinary actions to stabilize and revitalize the city: installing a state-appointed chief operating officer for the city, whose powers supercede those of the mayor and council, and putting forth an investment plan for the city that built upon its remaining institutional strengths in higher education and health care. A working group, the Camden Higher Education and Healthcare Task Force, was formed by the city's higher education and health care institutions at the behest of key legislators to coordinate their development efforts in order to advance the recovery of the city.
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