Camden, NJ—As the final steel beam was lifted into its place at the top of the steel frame of the Joint Health Sciences Center, so was the vision of Camden becoming a leading "eds and meds" corridor in the Northeast.
Federal, State and local officials joined the Rowan University Rutgers-Camden Board of Governors and university officials for the celebratory steel topping of the board's Joint Health Sciences Center on Wednesday morning.
The 95,000 square foot building, located at the corner of Martin Luther King Boulevard and Broadway, is expected to be completed in the spring of 2019 and bring $72 million in economic impact to the City of Camden. The multi-institutional building is the first of its kind in the state, where students, teachers and administrators from Rowan University, Rutgers-Camden, the Cooper Medical School of Rowan University, the Rowan University School of Osteopathic and Camden County College will all have a presence in the facility.
"We truly believe that Camden can now be recognized as the eds and meds of this northeast corridor, and that speaks volume to the future of what Camden is," said Mayor Frank Moran to the audience of officials and community members.
The Rowan University Rutgers-Camden Board of Governors was formed in 2012 when then-governor Chris Christie signed the New Jersey Medical and Health Science Education Act, joining two representatives from each university, along with three other individuals. The board's mission "[R]eflects an extension of Camden’s significant 'eds and meds' presence and is expected to leverage the educational and research assets to support growth in the region’s health care capacity," according to its website.
"Four-and-a-half years ago, we started this journey and to continue the transformation of the eds and meds corridor," said Cooper's Ferry Partnership CEO Kris Kolluri, who served as the CEO for the Rowan University Rutgers-Camden Board of Governors from 2014 until this past December, when he stepped down to take his current position. Kolluri added that the Joint Health Sciences Center is a symbol of the collaborative process that was put in place between Rowan University and Rutgers-Camden.
"All with an eye toward making sure Camden has a sustainable education and research platform to really impact the city and the region," said Kolluri. "The fact that we’re able to see tangible progress, it means the world to those of us who have been at this now for a little while."
Kolluri's replacement as CEO of the governor's board, former City of Camden Mayor Dana Redd, called the center "transformative."
"Without question, the Joint Health Sciences Center will be a transformative project within our eds and meds corridor, not to mention the first of its kind in New Jersey," said Redd at the start of the steel topping ceremony.
The Joint Health Sciences Center will be designed to co-locate students from different academic disciplines to share laboratories, equipment and classrooms. Approximately two-thirds of the building will be dedicated to research, multi-purpose rooms and offices focused on biomedical research. It was funded through the Biomedical Facilities Act and the Higher Education Bond Act.
"As the eds and meds continue to redefine the City of Camden, I am certain that the Joint Health Sciences Center, as a multi-institutional building, will offer the residents of Camden, and the region, different educational ladders," said Redd. According to Redd, the eds and meds is expected to create an additional 24,000 jobs over the next 10 years.
"Today, we take the next step in what we hope will be the culmination of ... the idea that was put forward by state legislature, when they passed legislation to set up this board," said Chairman of the Rowan University Rutgers Camden Board of Governors Jack Collins.