From left: Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, former Gov. Chris Christie and U.S. Sen. Cory Booker were on hand last fall to announce the state’s endorsement of Newark’s bid for Amazon’s second headquarters. — Courtesy: Governor’s Office/Tim Larsen
By Joshua Burd
Newark’s mayor and other stakeholders hailed the city’s selection as a finalist for Amazon’s second headquarters, proclaiming that the company can be a “powerful partner” in its future while restating the business case for bringing the project to New Jersey.
The e-commerce giant on Thursday announced its short list of 20 finalists for HQ2, which comes with a requirement of some 8 million square feet and the promise of 50,000 new jobs. Newark is the only in city in New Jersey to appear on the list, which also includes nearby locations such as New York City and Philadelphia and was pared down from nearly 240 applicants from across North America.
New Jersey’s largest city also has the state’s official endorsement, with the ability to offer up to $5 billion in tax credit incentives to Amazon in addition to an estimated $2 billion package from the city.
“Thank you to all 238 communities that submitted proposals. Getting from 238 to 20 was very tough –— all the proposals showed tremendous enthusiasm and creativity,” said said Holly Sullivan of Amazon Public Policy. “Through this process we learned about many new communities across North America that we will consider as locations for future infrastructure investment and job creation.”
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka hailed the decision on Thursday.
“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. “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.”
In celebrating the announcement, the mayor touted what made Newark a viable candidate for the massive project, including everything from its access to talent and education and a vast web of underground fiber optic cable that can produce the fastest internet in the country at affordable prices. The city also meets requirements for cultural offerings such as the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and the Prudential Center, along with open space such as the planned 22-acre Mulberry Commons project and a three-mile waterfront revitalization along the Passaic River.
“This moment provides an opportunity for Amazon to show that a company can do good in the world and also do well as a company,” Baraka said. “It also speaks to the essential strengths of the people of Newark — our resilience, our diversity, our talent, our productivity, and their amazing work to transform our city and its narrative over the past 50 years.
“Newark’s momentum has become unstoppable. Amazon can be a powerful partner in helping to forge our future. At the same time, we can help Amazon move its people and products like no other city can.”
Amazon said it will spend the coming months working with each of the candidate locations to dive deeper into their proposals, request additional information and evaluate the feasibility of a future partnership that can accommodate the company’s hiring plans as well as benefit its employees and the local community.
Amazon expects to make a decision in 2018.