Business & Finance

Newark makes the short list for Amazon's next HQ2

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Newark has been named as one of 20 finalists to host Amazon’s next headquarters in North America. Credits: fortune.com
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Newark, NJ--Newark has been named as one of 20 finalists to host Amazon’s next headquarters in North America.

Amazon announced the short-listed cities on Thursday.

Other cities that made the cut include Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Denver, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Miami, Montgomery County, Md., Nashville, New York, Northern Virginia, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Raleigh, Toronto, and Washington, D.C.

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The city was selected by former Gov. Chris Christie in October as the state’s endorsed recommendation to be the Seattle-based retail giant’s next corporate headquarters, or HQ2.

Last week the state Legislature approved and Christie signed into law a package offering generous incentives to draw Amazon to New Jersey.

The plan offered to Amazon would create a “Transformative Headquarters Economic Assistance Program” under the administration of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority to grant tax credits for establishing a corporate headquarters in New Jersey. According to the plan, the headquarters project would be required to create at least 30,000 new full-time jobs and represent a capital investment of at least $3 billion.

Bill S3631/A5340 would produce the majority of the $7 billion being offered in state and city tax credits to Amazon’s HQ2 if they make the move to the Garden State.

Included in the offer to Amazon is a merit-based state tax incentive through the state Economic Development Authority (EDA) that could reach $5 billion over 20 years and a city property tax abatement of up to $1 billion.

The new legislation would also make Amazon eligible for $10,000 in tax breaks each year for every full-time job created.

In October, Christie joined Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and U.S. Senator Cory Booker to announce Newark as the top applicant in Amazon’s ongoing selection process.

“Amazon’s decision to place the Newark on its short list of 20 municipalities to host is new headquarters is by itself a great victory for our city," Baraka said in a statement. "It means that world-class corporations and organizations like Amazon have recognized the success of our administration’s efforts to build a stronger city that welcomes business, is open to innovation, and at the cutting edge of technology and transportation."

Central Ward Councilwoman Gayle Chaneyfield Jenkins, who is running for mayor against Baraka in the May municipal election, also called it a great day for Newark, but cautioned that there is work to be done to prepare the city and its residents.

"If Newark is chosen we are going to have to ramp quickly on our transportation infrastructure and reorganize our employment training process," Chaneyfield Jenkins said. "What concerns me is the impact this is going to have on our local tax base. We don’t want this to be another corporation receiving tax credits with no return for Newark residents. Newarkers must be part of the equation."

Booker, who was mayor for seven years before winning election to the U.S. Senate, said Amazon will play a role in the continued transformation of the city.

“In the last decade, Newark has experienced unparalleled growth, paving the way for many new companies to call our city home," Booker said. "From a highly-educated workforce to a robust transportation network and central location with strong anchor institutions, Newark offers many strategic logistical benefits that would help Amazon HQ2 thrive."

State Sen. M. Teresa Ruiz said Amazon's move to Newark would be a significant boost for the city.

“It is a great day for the City of Newark,” said Ruiz, who represents Newark. “We are ready to take on a new venture and to serve as Seattle’s counterpart in hosting Amazon’s new headquarters. We have all of the assets to not only meet, but exceed Amazon’s needs as it grows its operations. Hosting Amazon would be an enormous win for our city and the entire state, creating tens of thousands of jobs, generating billions in investment and contributing significantly to our economy."

Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin, who sponsored the bill, said she was pleased the governor signed the legislation.

“Newark is a focal point in a massive economic region, complete with a burgeoning technology sector, the country’s fastest Internet, an extensive transportation infrastructure, stellar higher education facilities, great culture and history and a diverse and talented workforce," said Pintor Marin, who represents Newark.

"I can think of no place in America that offers the great potential that Newark does for Amazon," she said. "Quite simply, it’s the ideal location, one that has already been on the rise with expanded economic development. Amazon would be another key piece of the city’s already great future."

Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, Jr. welcomed the announcement.

“It is very exciting news that the City of Newark has been included on Amazon’s short list of locations for their second headquarters,” DiVincenzo said. “Making it to the next level for consideration is a testament to the thorough and comprehensive plan that highlights the advantages of Newark, as well as the ongoing revitalization of the downtown area and residential neighborhoods. We look forward to welcoming Amazon to our great City and County.”

Amazon announced its solicitation of North American regions last year in a highly-competitive selection process for its second corporate headquarters and received a total of 238 proposals from cities and provinces throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Newark is already home to Audible, an audio book company that was purchased by Amazon in 2008 for $300 million. It is also home to a Whole Foods, a grocery store chair Amazon purchased last year.

Amazon, which currently employs about 13,000 people throughout the state, will make a decision on the location of HQ2 sometime this year.

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