CAMDEN, NJ— A Pennsylvania-based company awarded over $10 million in tax incentives to move to Camden has backed out of purchasing a site on Broadway it had planned to develop for its new facility.
Union Packaging, a manufacturer of paperboard food packaging based in Yeadon, Pa., will no longer look to purchase the property at 2210 Broadway and is now searching for another location in Camden, said CEO and President Michael Pearson.
The company was awarded $10.6 million in tax incentives through the New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s Grow NJ program in April of last year to move to the Broadway site.
Pearson said in a phone call on Friday that Union Packaging was unable to come to a sale agreement and price with the building’s current owner, Hospital Central Services, Inc.
“We took it to the mat as long as we could,” Pearson said. Hospital Central Services, Inc., which is based in Allentown, Pa., did not respond to a request for comment by Friday afternoon.
Union Packaging is now working “feverishly” to find a new location in Camden, said Pearson, and has received help in the process from both Cooper’s Ferry Partnership and the city.
Under the Grow NJ program, they have until April before they have to submit progress information to the development authority indicating that the business has site plan approval, committed financing for, and site control of the qualified business facility.
If Union Packaging can’t find a new site before then, Pearson said they will ask for an extension.
“We sunk a lot of money into this project, and we could come up with zero unless we are able to work with these other sites,” Pearson said. Despite that, Pearson said Union Packaging hasn’t given up on Camden.
The company, which plans to move 63 employees to Camden and expand to 10 more within a year, looks to hire ex-offenders, people of color and members of the community where its located, Pearson said, and provide them with liveable wages.
“The spirit of what we’re trying to do is true to stimulating job creation and economic development … but it doesn’t matter if you don’t have a property,” Pearson said. “I am still very attracted to what Camden offers, and I hope to be able to utilize what that [Grow NJ] program offers so that it will further our mission to providing what we think our great economic opportunities for people.”
Pearson said that the company has found some promising locations, but could not elaborate any further due to still being in the negotiation process.
Union Packaging had planned to renovate and expand the 35,900-square-feet former laundromat site by an additional 35,100 square feet for the total square footage of 71,000.
In July, it had received approval from the Camden City Planning Board for the project. The project was scheduled to come before the planning board again Thursday night, however, the company had withdrawn the entire application due to the failed acquisition of the Broadway site.
“Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get that done and it hurt us financially — we had huge risk,” Pearson said. “But we’re going to stay committed to get the project done as long as we have the state of New Jersey and the City of Camden in our corner.”