Campbell And Camden

Posted: February 05, 1986

It might be going just a bit too far to say "Mmmm, mmmm, good!" but the Campbell Soup Co.'s decision to modernize operations in Camden is an encouraging long-range commitment.

Campbell Soup was founded in Camden in 1869 and has been a significant part of the city's economy for more than a century. While there was never any doubt about company headquarters staying in Camden, speculation has been rampant for years about a possible closing of production lines. Campbell's main plant in Camden was built in 1907. This and other old buildings in the company complex are not well suited for controlling costs.

But last week Campbell announced that it would spend $37 million to make its Camden production facilities more efficient. There was a down side to the announcement, though. Some operations, including can-manufacturing, will be phased out - resulting in the loss of about 450 jobs in the next three years, mostly through attrition. Campbell currently has about 1,700 employees in Camden.

Mayor Melvin R. Primas has put Campbell's decision in proper perspective by noting that the modernization will improve productivity and make the company's Camden operations more competitive. The decision, not just to stay in Camden but to invest and modernize, has positive long-range implications that outweigh impending reductions in the work force.

Camden has had more than its share of deep-seated economic problems and hard times, but the city is showing positive signs of coming back. Campbell's commitment is a harbinger of better times ahead. The firm might have pulled out, and no doubt could have received attractive offers to locate elsewhere, but it chose to stay and to modernize in the city of its roots. That is good for Camden, good for Campbell and good for the Delaware Valley.

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