Reyes Morton: ‘There is Much More…Behind Fed Resources to Camden’
Last November, Camden City was given $25 million by a federally funded infrastructure project and $11 million by state Department of Transportation grant funds in order to rebuild Camden neighborhoods and port that will improve the quality of life for residents.
Today, Ward 4th Camden City Councilwoman, former Camden City School Board Vice President and activist, Felisha Reyes Morton, says that even though there is a lot of funding, “there isn’t enough for encouraging small businesses – especially the Latino ones, who are the largest community [in the city].”
This last year we have seen an increase in small businesses after the pandemic restrictions were lifted, “we have transportation businesses, we even have cannabis businesses, but the infrastructure needed for those businesses is missing,” comments Reyes Morton. Camden City is one of the poorest cities in New Jersey, with its employment rate double of the country in general (14.4%), so “small businesses are very important to Camden residents.”
The Democratic Party, in Reyes Morton’s eyes, “has a lot of resources for marketing: they can make you see and feel that there is a lot of money for funding, but when you see the details, how many small businesses they have reached, there is no data.”
There seems to be “much more to see behind the resources that were given by the Congress.” In addition, when asked if that funding has been helpful rebuilding the city, Reyes Morton says: “I’ve seen the opening of new schools, as Councilwoman of the 4th Ward, I’ve been able to open five schools approximately – but there are still a lot of buildings abandoned that are not good for the community.” What Reyes Morton wishes to see is that those infrastructures were “given to small businesses owners so they can use them and also, new plans and projects that speak to today’s society.”
In terms of creating jobs, the Councilwoman thinks that the federal money has been helpful, “yes, well, there are jobs, right? But how many of our people are equipped to execute those jobs? that is the actual question.”
The people of Camden come from different countries, especially from Latin America, and a language barrier is put right there, a cultural barrier too. “That is why I think it’s very important that leaders and people who are in charge have in consideration these types of conversations and give actual programs and resources for the families of minorities,” says Reyes Morton.
Those leaders, in today’s age, “considering the amount of changes in society and in younger generations, I think they need to be more progressive, a person who has experiences with different cultures”, Reyes Morton reflects, “and because of that reason I thank President Biden for his long-timed service to our country, but for the next elections, the United States needs a younger, more energized person in charge.”
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