SOMERVILLE, NJ – Freeholder Director Brian D. Levine plans to reopen talks with Amazon about locating the company’s second headquarters – HQ2 – in Somerset County.
He made the announcement Feb. 22 at a meeting of the Somerset County Employers Legislative Committee.
Somerset County put in a bid for HQ2 originally, he said, but “the state nixed our idea and went only with Newark” – despite the fact that the county was “ahead of 90 percent of national proposals based on Amazon’s criteria.”
He now intends to proactively resuscitate Somerset County’s proposal, a plan that has the blessing of the Somerset County Business Partnership.
Despite New Jersey's endorsement of Newark as the state's primary candidate for Amazon's consideration, Somerville forwarded a proposal to the multi-national giant in October, centered on a 22-acre tract of property adjacent to the borough's landfill, fronting on Route 206 and adjacent to the Raritan Valley NJ Transit rail line that connects central New Jersey with Newark and Manhattan. The proposal also incorporated potential properties within Somerset County.
Competition for Amazon's commitment was fierce, with dozens of cities and counties up and down the East Coast submitting proposals to the online giant, with the promise of tens of thousands of jobs, and millions of dollars for the local economy.
“I am not just proposing this for Somerset County,” Levine said. “I am going to reach out to the mayor’s office in Newark and suggest a joint proposal. Then we would have an urban-suburban mix and diverse landscape, yet geographic proximity.” He also plans to ask the governor’s office to support and sponsor this “combined, strong proposal.
“This multi-pronged approach will be far superior to any one proposal from anywhere,” he predicted, adding that he will personally reach out to Amazon. He also will contact towns in Somerset County to see which might be interested.
No matter the outcome, he said, “everyone will know that Somerset County is open for business and that we’re friendly to new ideas and always willing to partner.”
Earlier this month, Amazon turned its back on Long Island City and the New York borough of Queens, which it had selected as the site for HQ2, following push-back from activisits and opponents of the plan.