A South Jersey economist says there may be light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to Atlantic City's economic future.

In his semi-annual report, Stockton University's Oliver Cooke says after what he calls Atlantic City's "lost decade" of casino closings, a housing crisis and the recession, the turnaround may be slowly starting.

"I think that there are several well-publicized indications."

Among the positive economic developments cited in Cooke's report:

* Hard Rock's entry into the resort city, with a group of investors who are making what will be a very sizable investment in the casino industry.

* New residential development complexes.

* The state's recent announcement that it has effectively negotiated a bargain for the city in its ongoing tax dispute with Borgata.

"I think that also, certainly, they have gone a long way toward clearing up the very large cloud that was hanging over the city itself.

Cooke describes Atlantic City's troubles as a "deep, deep hole," and although he's optimistic, "I think that we should all continue to watch this process play out, and move it in the direction that I think that we all hope that it will move in, and not expect too much too soon."

"Despite comments that this or that might be the "silver bullet," I think those are often times grossly misleading and delusional in these kinds of processes, and unfortunately often times take many years, as painful as that process might be."

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New jersey 101.5

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