Newark will be Jersey’s representative in HQ2 bid

BY David Cruz, Senior Correspondent |

Necessity is the mother of strange bedfellows. Gov. Chris Christie, stood alongside Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and Sen. Cory Booker, who were all on the same page, apparently, in extolling the virtues of Brick City as the home for Amazon’s potentially game-changing new HQ2.

“We’re here to announce that the City of Newark will be advanced as, not only the best location for Amazon, but the only location for Amazon here in the state of New Jersey,” announced Christie Monday. “In every competition there are winners and those who come close but don’t win. Let me be clear on this, Newark was the clear winner of this competition. Newark has earned the state’s support.”

With state of the art data infrastructure, 10 minutes to an international airport, a major seaport, trains, buses and six colleges producing thousands of hi-tech ready graduates, the city has put together a winning bid that will include major concessions from the city.

“I am so fully confident that this would amount to one of the most successful endeavors in the history of the state’s economic development activities that we are willing to give $5 billion in tax incentives over 10 years upon the creation of the 50,000 new jobs let any state go and try to beat that package along with what we have offered here in Newark,” said Christie. I’m proud that the City of Newark has also stepped up to offer a local property tax abatement that could be worth another $1 billion and would waive its wage tax to make this development happen.”

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka acknowledged that the incentives are generous. “Part of it is obviously the tax abatement, but Newark has something less that no other city has in the state of New Jersey and that is a payroll tax over a period of years, as well as a tax abatement that can create this type of revenue we’re talking about to add to the incentive package,” he said.

The Governor’s Office said Monday the total package of incentives — from city and state — could ultimately top $7 billion. Newark would gain upwards of 50,000 new jobs and billions in new economic activity, numbers that critics say don’t entirely add up, but officials say are potentially too great to ignore.

Newark is not new to big projects. NJPAC was built in 1997 and envisioned as the center of a whole new community, but it’s taken 20 years for that vision to begin to be fully realized. But that was then. Today, Newark is a corporate hotspot, seeing unprecedented development in office, retail and housing, eclipsing even the good ol’ Cory Booker days.

“With Amazon locating in this great city, they not only will make the right business case, but they will demonstrate to this nation that our inner city spaces are not places to be avoided,” added Booker. “They are the undiscovered treasure.”

The city hasn’t said what specific sites are under consideration, but even if Newark doesn’t get the nod from Amazon, the fact that the state has bestowed most favored city status is a clear indication of how far Newark has come in the last decade, from Renaissance city to Brick City to potentially the Amazon City.