The joint-venture partners of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City were awarded the MLK Service Award on Sunday for their work in revitalizing the city. Reverend DeForest Soaries of the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens awarded Joe Jingoli, CEO of Jingoli & Sons, and Jack Morris, CEO of Edgewood Properties to the developers on Sunday.
“These fellows have done such phenomenal work that I would have to spend my whole sermon describing it,” Soaries said. “They are receiving this Martin Luther King recognition because they are solving problems. And they are solving problems like community revitalization.”
The reverend thanked Jingoli and Morris for their work in Franklin Township, where the developers built a school at the site of a cement factory and implemented a plan to hire local employees.
“40 years ago, people thought that gambling was going to save [Atlantic City],” he said “And what we discovered is that casino gambling rescued many people, but few of whom lived in Atlantic City. 40 years later, Atlantic City is on the verge of a rebound not because gambling is going to solve the problem, but because these two men, with one other partner, bought one of the Trump Hotels.”
“[Jingoli and Morris are] investing half a billion dollars to redo [the former Trump Taj Mahal], they’re turning it into a Hard Rock facility and they funded by themselves a half a million dollar training program so the people that live in Atlantic City can get the jobs at Hard Rock. They’ve done the same in Newark and wherever they go. They are developing a model so that big developers and contractors will stop bringing in people from all over the world, but they will employ local people wherever the money is spent.”
Renovations at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino are underway. In their $500 million investment in renovations, the joint-venture partners have planned to expand theater capacity to 7,000 seats. The investment will also target the retail, restaurants and 2,000-room hotel.
“When New Jersey has had a need, they respond with great dispatch,” Soaries said. “It’s time for us to stop identifying heroes whose only role is to complain and point out problems.”