NEWARK, NJ — Amazon representatives met with local community leaders in Newark on Tuesday to “fine-tune” the city’s pitch to land the retail giant’s new headquarters, dubbed HQ2.
Aisha Glover, president and CEO of the Newark Community Economic Development Corporation, told Patch that New Jersey and Newark officials met with the Amazon HQ2 selection team to “fine-tune elements included in our pitch” and give the company a first-hand look at the city.
“Suffice it to say, we hope the same compelling case that earned Newark recognition as one of 20 candidate cities from more than 200-plus proposals will help bring this home to New Jersey at the end of the day,” Glover said.
She declined to comment further on the views and reactions of the Amazon team in order to “respect the integrity of their selection process.”
Sources told NJ Advance Media that attendees at the meeting included Gov. Phil Murphy, Mayor Ras Baraka and local businessman/philanthropist Ray Chambers.
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Amazon has stated that the new facility will be a “full equal to its current campus in Seattle.” The company said that it expects to invest over $5 billion in construction into the new headquarters and that it may bring as many as 50,000 “high-paying jobs” to the area.
The project could generate an estimated $10 billion in direct and indirect economic activity, according to a company news release.
Amazon listed some criteria for the new location. It needs to be in a metropolitan area, in a stable and business-friendly environment, close to world-class universities and to transportation infrastructure, and with optimal connectivity to the internet.
The race to land the new facility has inspired proposals from more than 238 communities. According to Amazon, the other locations that are among the final 20 candidates are: Austin, TX, Chicago, IL, Columbus, OH, Dallas, TX, Denver, CO, Indianapolis, IN, Los Angeles, CA, Montgomery County, MD, Nashville, TN, New York City, NY, Northern Virginia, VA, Philadelphia, PA, Pittsburgh, PA, Raleigh, NC, Toronto, ON, and Washington D.C.
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The proposal to bring Amazon’s new headquarters to Newark has lined up supporters on both sides of the political spectrum, including former governor and Republican Chris Christie and Democrat U.S. Senator Cory Booker.
“This deal would amount to one of the most successful endeavors in the history of New Jersey and Amazon,” Christie said last year. “For New Jerseyans, HQ2 means 50,000 new jobs and the creation of a larger consumer base and direct opportunities for local small businesses and vendors to grow and thrive. Adding tens of thousands of dedicated and community-oriented Amazon employees and their families will also further enrich our area neighborhoods and schools.”
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However, some critics have questioned the plan to offer the corporation a tax break through the state Economic Development Authority (NJEA) that could reach $5 billion over 10 years. Newark city officials are also offering the company a municipal property tax abatement that could be worth $1 billion, as well as a city wage tax waiver worth an estimated $1 billion over 20 years.
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 to earn the tax credits. The project would also be required to yield a net benefit to the state of at least 115 percent of the tax credits the company receives, according to a release from the state Senate.
State Assemblyman John Wisniewksi, a Democrat from District 19, said that the Amazon “bidding war” will only put New Jersey on a downward spiral.
“While the proposal would provide good jobs in the region, it also robs the state of the very revenue needed to address the consequences of such growth and development,” Wisniewksi said.
“If we add 50,000 employees to downtown Newark, where’s the money to maintain and expand the system?” Wisniewksi questioned. “Who would pay for the additional wear and tear on roads or the additional police and firefighters needed to ensure public safety?”