I have often been accused of being optimistic about the future of Atlantic City. The naysayers for many years have continued to say there will be no future for Atlantic City and that things will only get worse.

I remember very well when David Cordish announced that he was going to build The Walk on Michigan Avenue. The groans came from those who see only the negative impact of any proposition.

I stood there as Cordish broke ground for the building. Once again, the naysayers said it would never be built. Much to their chagrin, the stores were built. Several months later, there was a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the opening of the stores, and the naysayers again came forth and said nobody’s going to shop there. But the stores opened, and people came from far and near to shop in them.

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Cordish decided he was going to have the stores open at night in December for the holiday business. The naysayers gasped and warned about having people walking down Michigan Avenue at night in Atlantic City. The stores were open at night, and they did strong business and there were no incidents of robberies or illegal activities.

The Walk continued to be one of the most successful outdoor malls in the nation. Many of the stores ranked within the top three of their brand throughout America. The rains came, and it didn’t drive the people away. Snow came, and the people continued to shop. Spring and summer came, and they brought more people to take advantage of the good bargains.

By now, you know Tanger Factory Outlet Centers Inc. bought The Walk and is very glad it had done so, as business continues to be good in most of the stores.

And now along comes Bass Pro Shops, and naysayers say it will not do business in Atlantic City. Obviously, they know nothing about the history of Bass Pro. Talk to anyone who has been in one of them, and you will hear them say how great it is to see the variety of merchandise and the manner in which the staff treats customers.

It is anticipated they will be open for business in the fall. I can’t wait to see the naysayers weeping as crowds go into the shop and walk out with merchandise they have purchased.

These are the folks who continue to say Atlantic City is dying. They say the winter business is off. There is no one here during the week, and the weekends are not very busy. Once again, they can be proved wrong by the records of the business being done on the weekends in Atlantic City.

There is a resurgence of younger people coming to town. Just spend a little time on a Friday or Saturday night and see the number of people in the dance clubs in the casinos and around the area. Almost every hotel in the casinos and along the highways has strong occupancy during the weekends. That has been the modus operandi for Atlantic City for as long as I can remember, and that goes back a long way.

Why this portion of my column? It is to show the naysayers who dwell on people’s misgivings that things are getting better here. Yes, the figures for the casinos are not good, but they will get better. You see, Mayor Don Guardian said the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter, and I wholeheartedly agree with this observation.

Naysayers, get out your towels and start your crying, as there will be development that is going to take place in Atlantic City.

Who are Gary Hill

and John Schultz?

Many people wonder who was responsible for getting 1,100 people together Tuesday for the Metropolitan Business and Civic Association luncheon, the largest crowd any civic organization has drawn, to my recollection.

Two gentlemen, Gary Hill and John Schultz, started an organization several years ago to get the business people together. They discussed the varied aspects of what would be needed to improve the community and help the business people. They then decided to open it up to the people who are not in business but were concerned about its welfare.

A year later they had a dinner at the Claridge Hotel, and it drew 100 people. They were thrilled to see so many people join them in their quest to improve their hometown. The organization started to grow, and what happened Tuesday was the culmination of gathering all segments of the community to work together and to hear the new leader of Atlantic City, Mayor Don Guardian.

They are nonpolitical, and anyone and everyone is invited to attend one of their functions. Over the year, the MBCA will contribute thousands of dollars to various local organizations. They don’t ask anything of their members except to come to their meetings. They generally have a good speaker, and they always draw crowds of 500 and up. They allow for time before their meeting for people to mingle and meet one another.

This past Tuesday’s gathering was something to behold. There were more than 1,100 people in attendance, and they took up every inch of space in Caesars’ Palladium Ballroom. It was amazing how well the staff handled that many people, providing them with an excellent meal and doing it without interfering with the activity taking place on the stage. My congratulations to the staff, the chefs and the folks who put this program together.

That meeting will be long remembered, as they heard Mayor Guardian lay out his plan for the future of Atlantic City. They walked out of Caesars with smiles on their faces and a belief that Guardian will meet his obligations as the new mayor of Atlantic City.

Who are Gary Hill and John Schultz? They are two men who had a dream about bringing people together to make their home community the best it can be. They are deeply ingrained within the activities of Atlantic City. Gary and John are involved in just about every charitable organization in the city.

An interesting thing is that they garner nothing from their activities except knowing that they brought people together and that doing so will help make Atlantic City bigger and better. Their dreams of the future may well become a reality if the plans they heard Tuesday are instituted and finalized. Thank you, Gary and John, for putting together a meeting that enabled us to hear about Atlantic City’s forthcoming development.

Pinky’s Corner appears every Thursday in The Press. The Pinky’s Corner radio show airs 4 to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays on WOND 1400-AM. His TV show, “WMGM Presents Pinky,” airs 7:30 p.m. Saturdays on NBC TV40. Email Pinky at: pinky@pressofac.com

Been working with the Press for about 27 years.

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