Gov. Chris Christie has alluded to a decrease in state aid for Newark, but Deputy Mayor Adam Zipkin told NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider that a decrease in state aid wouldn’t impact operations in economic development and city officials would be able to pass a balanced budget. He’s also optimistic about Newark’s future since new hotels and businesses have opened.
Zipkin explained that Newark has a department devoted to economic development. There is a city planning division and outside agencies to help, including Newark Works — a workforce training and placement agency — and Brick City Development Corporation. “So we are adequately funded and really at this point are able to carry out our mandate at a very high level in terms of the level of economic development that’s happening in the city, downtown and all over in our neighborhoods,” he said.
Downtown Newark has a new hotel, a 150-room Courtyard by Marriott that Zipkin said has seen good reservations and bookings. A 100-room Indigo Hotel is under construction a block away and Zipkin anticipates a spring 2013 opening. In addition, officials are in talks with other hotels to bring them to Newark. “There are other hotel projects that are starting the planning process that have come in and met with us and that we anticipate next year in 2013 moving forward for approvals,” Zipkin said.
Panasonic decided to put its headquarters in Newark. Zipkin believes the decision came from a combination of incentives and a belief in the city. “I think they weighed a lot of options both in New Jersey and outside of New Jersey and ultimately decided that the ability to be part of what’s happening in Newark and to have a 21st century sustainable headquarters here was their best option,” Zipkin said, adding that he and Mayor Cory Booker are thrilled to have the company.
Newark’s port district has also seen increased activity over the last few years with new distribution centers, including Wakefern, which is the distributor for ShopRite, and Bartlett Dairy, which distributes for Starbucks.
“We’ve had a lot of activity and we’re seeing more and more of those types of projects break ground. We recently broke ground on a 15-acre brown field site in the East Ward that’s going to be another 200,000 to 300,000 square foot distribution center,” Zipkin said. “So I think as we’re seeing the port get busier and busier, we’re going to see those types of projects continue to move forward.”
With the NHL canceling regular season games because of a lockout, Zipkin said it could affect Newark businesses since it houses Devils games at the Prudential Center. “On the event nights there is a big spike in people coming to downtown and a lot of activity in those nearby restaurants and businesses so certainly we’re hoping for a quick resolution to the NHL situation,” he said.