As Amazon continues to search for the home of its second corporate headquarters, the City of Newark is pleased to be in the esteemed company of 20 worthy locations nationwide.
As we continue to look towards the potential of this new opportunity, the City is reaching out, on an individual basis, to see how its businesses and residents feel about the potential of welcoming Amazon to Newark. Canvassers recently flooded downtown locations throughout Newark to capture those sentiments. Sent by the Newark Community Economic Development Corporation (NCEDC), these individuals found a surprisingly high level of awareness regarding Amazon’s February announcement of the reduction of 238 site applications to 20, and that Newark was among these leading locations.
The stakes are enormous. The second headquarters is expected to cost at least $5 billion to construct and operate, and will create as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs. The selected city is expected to get an immediate boost to jobs, wage increases, an upward trend in the real estate market, and a possible push towards new home construction for neighborhoods within commuting distance of the new location.
The canvassers found enthusiasm, mixed with some trepidation, over the prospects of Amazon coming to Newark. After days of interviews in stores and businesses, and on the streets, the results show a nearly even break on overall sentiments. In all, 34 percent of respondents are enthusiastic or very enthusiastic about Amazon’s potential arrival, 32 percent are neutral about the prospects, and 32 percent are concerned or extremely concerned about Amazon in Newark.
NCEDC representatives also recorded the words and observations of residents and business leaders. When asked what the respondents wanted to see if Newark is selected, answers varied from “more jobs” to “see the city continue to grow.” When asked where their concerns lie, those who responded expressed concerns over traffic, gentrification, and displacement, and even that perhaps Amazon “won’t hire people from the Newark area.” When asked to be aspirational about Newark, respondents said they wanted Amazon to know that “we are a city of great hope” and that “the City has been improving dramatically.”
In addition to surveying the public, NCEDC hosted two meetings in February to present and discuss the city’s bid for Amazon HQ2 with the community. The first was held in partnership with the Newark Regional Business Partnership and drew the attendance of local business owners who were interested in learning how they might be impacted by the potential move. During the general question session of the meeting, attendees asked questions such as “how Amazon would help local entrepreneurs carry their goods on the Amazon marketplace” and “if they would use local vendors in their cafeteria.”
The second meeting, held in partnership with the City of Newark, was attended by city residents, who overall responded favorably to the prospect of Amazon coming to Newark. Some of the comments addressed Amazon collaborating with local high schools on STEM programs and if Amazon employees might participate in summer youth programs.
Only time will tell if Newark will get the opportunity to roll out the welcome mat for Amazon, but we will continue to stand strong as a City, and continue to foster the opportunity that the City of Newark brings to both residents and business alike.
Aisha Glover is President & CEO of NEWARK Community Economic Development Corp.