ATLANTIC CITY — More than two hundred area business professionals from the public and private sectors gathered Friday for Mayor Don Guardian’s first Economic Development Forum to discuss opportunities for growth in the region.

The forum, which took place at the Sheraton Atlantic City Convention Center Hotel, was sponsored by the Greater Atlantic City Chamber.

“This isn’t about being Republican or Democrat,” Guardian said of continued efforts to make Atlantic City cleaner and safer. “It’s just common sense.

Officials outlined several development initiatives underway in the city. Casino Reinvestment Authority Executive Director John Palmieri said a development venture led by Boraie Development Inc. and former NBA player Shaquille O’Neal could break ground in the South Inlet as soon as the end of the summer.

The $100 million project seeking CRDA financing is expected to include 250 residential units, a movie theater and a supermarket.

“We’re being very aggressive; we’re being tactical; we’re taking risks,” Palmieri said.

Meanwhile, Atlantic County Freeholder Chairman Frank Formica pointed out that the city has a long way to go to solve its problems, highlighting the job loss and loss in ratables in recent years due to the declining casino industry.

He referenced discussions about the possibility of the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey creating a stronger presence in Atlantic City, saying such development would strengthen the city.

“We have a college that wants to locate very badly here,” Formica said. “It’s caught up in some quagmire about who wants to be greedy about a little patch of land.”

Earlier this month, Stockton President Herman J. Saatkamp Jr. said the chances that the college would have a four-year campus in Atlantic City are 50-50.

Saatkamp has said several sites in the city are under consideration. The college has never publicly said it’s pursuing a specific location.

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More than 30 years’ experience reporting and editing for newspapers and magazines in Illinois, Colorado, Texas and New Jersey and 1985 winner of the Texas Daily Newspaper Association’s John Murphy Award for copy editing.