The Civic Leaders: Economic Development
During NEDC's initial stages varying accounts of its function appeared. 1 Perhaps the most widely accepted notion, and the one that NEDC helped propagate through its own press releases, was that the Committee would be a general planning agency in the field of urban renewal. It would make studies of Newark's economy, land uses, and policy needs, would issue long-range policy recommendations in these areas of study, and would coordinate the relevant municipal agencies in accordance with these recommendations. Another frequently mentioned possibility was that NEDC would become a rival redevelopment agency to NHA, attempting to clear Newark's slums with private investment funds rather than with federal aid.
It is questionable whether NEDC had the political support at City Hall to effectuate a central planning role. It soon became apparent, however, that most of its members had no interest in studies, recommendations, or coordination of other agencies. Instead, their interests lay with specific achievements or projects and with immediate government or private action to bring new businesses into the city and to save the downtown area. Even the originators of NEDC, who initially had not thought in these terms, now hoped that some concrete achievement by the Committee would strengthen the rather weak commitment of most member corporations. This decision not to study, plan, or coordinate various aspects of the renewal program helped reduce NEDC to another operating agency and facilitate a subsequent accommodation with NHA.
The notion that NEDC might become an alternative slum clear