Imagining a Marshall Plan for Our 'Ignored' Cities

New Jersey cannot reach its potential as a great state until it turns around its cities, former Gov. Thomas Kean told an audience gathered to discuss an urban policy agenda last week. “If we can make them an engine of economic progress, and not in any way a drain, that will do more to help this state and its budget than anything else we can be doing,” he said.

In order to address the lack of attention to our cities and the woeful underfunding of urban programs, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said we need an “urban Marshall Plan.”

The two spoke about the potential for an urban policy agenda at NJ Spotlight on Cities, a day-long conference held Friday at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark. The event gathered leaders from across the state to talk about the problems — and potential solutions — to the issues of New Jersey’s urban centers. At the core of the discussion was the need for an urban policy agenda, what it should entail, how it should be paid for, and the likelihood that the next governor will consider it a priority.

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