NEWARK, NJ - Mayor Ras Baraka today said that Newark is “well poised” to have Amazon’s second headquarters following the retail giant’s announcement to pull out of New York.
Amazon in November selected Long Island City, Queens and Arlington, Va. over Newark for its second headquarters, with a promise to create thousands of high paying jobs. But the company faced pushback from politicians in New York and residents in Queens following the announcement.
“While polls show that 70% of New Yorkers support our plans and investment, a number of state and local politicians have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required to go forward with the project we and many others envisioned in Long Island City,” the company today said in a statement.
Just hours before Amazon’s announcement, Newark officials were still reminding the world’s largest internet retailer that it was infatuated with the company by sending a Valentine’s Day package to an Amazon-occupied Manhattan office.
The delivery consisted of red heart-shaped balloons, cupcakes and a giant sign which read, “NJ & Newark Still Love U, amazon.”
“This is a bold and playful gesture to remind Amazon that our incentives on the state and city side are in place, so there’s more opportunity for them to be welcomed with ease,” said Aisha Glover, CEO of Newark Alliance. Glover was instrumental in helping put together Newark's Amazon bid when she was with the Newark Community Economic Development Corporation.
Amazon could have gotten $1.3 billion in subsidies from New York City and $573 million for coming to Virginia. But Newark was offering an even larger incentive package: up to $2 billion in local tax breaks. The state also offered up to $5 billion for the company building the so-called HQ2 in New Jersey.
Even though Amazon’s statement went on to say it does “not intend to reopen the HQ2 search at this time,” Baraka reminded the company that Newark is still a viable option.
“Given the city and state’s assets—a strong talent pipeline, a diverse tech base, unmatched infrastructure and a highly accessible location – we are well poised to accommodate Amazon should they want to relocate New York City’s portion of HQ2, in whole or part," Baraka said in a statement.
Newark was one of 20 locations vying for Amazon. Just a few weeks after the company didn't select Newark, the mayor called for better working conditions at Amazon warehouses. Baraka at the time said he never had the chance to talk to Amazon executives about warehouse working conditions while negotiating for HQ2.
Several residents have also raised concerns in August about gentrification when Newark City Council passed a sweet tax incentive package for companies like Amazon. Locals were concerned that the jobs Amazon would create -- with an average salary of $100,000 -- would only benefit outsiders and not Newarkers.
Still, Baraka reminded Amazon in his statement today that the community continues to be "engaged."
"Legislation regarding the tax incentives has already been passed, our real estate options are still viable, and the community has been – and will continue to be – engaged," Baraka's statement continued. "Newark is becoming a national model for what equitable development should look like across the country and we welcome the opportunity to resume conversations with Amazon and provide them an opportunity to be a part of its renaissance.”