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Atlantic City’s Bold Renewal Plan for the Future

July 19, 2021
48 Blocks AC Mural Program.

Emerging from the pandemic on sure footing, Atlantic City is aiming to stand apart in the group market with Meaningful Meetings, a future-forward “regenerative tourism” initiative based on the “life-giving” fundamentals of sustainability and corporate social responsibility. 

This July, I learned about the program’s core and associated elements on a dedicated three-day fam hosted by Meet AC and Caesars Entertainment, with partner support.  

Transportation throughout was via Atlantic City Jitney. Originated in 1915, these iconic minibuses today run on eco-friendly compressed natural gas. Our friendly driver, Dennis Bassford, operates a private Jitney and works with Meet AC on group bookings. 

The eye-opening experience began with a tour of the Atlantic City Arts Foundation’s flagship 48 Blocks Atlantic City project. Focused on artistic freedom, expression and storytelling, this growing collection of some 60 permanent outdoor murals continues to instill vibrancy across all 48 of AC’s blocks.   

Tanger Outlets bee colony, Atlantic City.
Tanger Outlets Atlantic City/Alveole bee colony. Credit: Jeff Heilman.
 

Committed to environmental sustainability, Tanger Outlets Atlantic City has partnered with international beekeeping company Alveole on a seasonal rooftop honeybee project. Head beekeeper Allison Gratton, who provided an engaging lesson on how the colony operates, called the honeybees “magical ambassadors that bring people together.” Educational workshops are offered through the summer. 

As the bees make honey, local entrepreneurs are bringing other natural treats to life. Part of the Orange Loop neighborhood renaissance project, Bar 32 Chocolate, after the 32 acts that performed at Woodstock, is for hand-crafted chocolate, desserts and cocktails.

[Related: The Orange Loop Launches Exciting Event Options in Atlantic City]

At their “Living Beer Project” The Seed, married couple Sean Towers and Amanda Cardinali use microbiology to craft mixed-fermentation ales, saisons and other brews from locally sourced ingredients at their nationally acclaimed brewery and taproom. 

Sustainability Greets on Arrival 

Commanding the approach to AC, the five 380-foot turbines of the Jersey-Atlantic Wind Farm power 2,600 local homes, and in conjunction with 2,700 solar panels, the onsite Wastewater Treatment Plant. The 24/7 facility treats 29 million gallons of wastewater daily. The volume of trash caught by the filters is staggering—flush only toilet paper. 

Atlantic City Convention Center solar array.
Atlantic City Convention Center solar array. Credit: Jeff Heilman.
 

Our tour of the LEED Gold and GBAC STAR-certified Atlantic City Convention Center with Meet AC President and CEO Larry Sieg and Vice President of Sales Sandi Harvey included the nation’s largest roof-mounted solar array. With monthly room nights back to 2019 levels at the target number of 29,000 and above, convention bookings are hot again. 

Caesars Entertainment, which is investing $400 million in upgrading its trio of AC properties, is closely tied to the community. During our fam, Caesars’ HEROES employee volunteer team packed nearly 600 meals at the food bank in nearby Egg Harbor Township. Company leaders from Tropicana Atlantic City, Caesars Atlantic City and our host hotel Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City also donated $10,000 to the Community FoodBank of New Jersey, enough for 30,000 meals. 

Bar 32 Chocolate, Atlantic City.
Bar 32 Chocolate. Credit: Jeff Heilman.
 

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City is also committed to “putting boots on the ground” in AC. Upholding its “Save the Planet” motto, the property partnered with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Oyster Shell Recycling Program to put discarded oyster and clam shells from its restaurants back into area waters. Program benefits to date include diverting 65 tons of shells from landfills. 

“Regenerative” activities include beach clean-ups and volunteer opportunities with accredited area organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and the South Jersey Food Bank. 

And speaking of regeneration, Bally’s Atlantic City, the worn former crown jewel of the destination, is getting its luster back and then some as work continues on a $90 million-plus transformation. Stay tuned for more coverage! 

Read this next: East Coast Gaming Destinations Staging a Meetings Comeback 

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About the author
Jeff Heilman | Senior Contributor

Brooklyn, N.Y.-based independent journalist Jeff Heilman has been a Meetings Today contributor since 2004, including writing our annual Texas and Las Vegas supplements since inception. Jeff is also an accomplished ghostwriter specializing in legal, business and Diversity & Inclusion content.