The founder and chairman of Amazon continues to have a profound impact on New Jersey from afar.
The most tangible is the e-commerce giant’s ever-growing fleet of fulfillment centers throughout the state that employ tens of thousands of workers and further enhance its reputation as one of the most important in the U.S. for warehousing.
But things got a lot more interesting earlier this year when it was disclosed the city of Newark was one of 20 cities on Amazon’s short list to be the location of the company’s much-heralded second headquarters, or HQ2.
Now while Newark would have to be considered an underdog to land the big fish — even “Saturday Night Live” took a poke at the city’s chances just days after the announcement was made — just being on the short list has opened up some interesting possibilities and cemented Bezos’ (and Amazon’s) place on the Power 100 list.
The most optimistic outcome (to some but not all) would have HQ2 coming to Newark, bringing with it as many new jobs (and boosted prestige for Newark and the state) that money can buy, and which 20 other cities and states would love to have.
To be specific, we’re talking about $5 billion in incentives already pledged by the state and an additional $2 billion by the city. If, however, Newark loses out, does that mean all of the state-backed $5 billion needs to go away?
When recently asked about it by NJBIZ, New Jersey Chamber of Commerce President Tom Bracken said if Amazon goes elsewhere, a good chunk of those incentives should be reinvested in companies already doing business in the state as a way to ensure they stay and prosper. In his budget address earlier this month, Gov. Phil Murphy also talked about ways to incentivize New Jersey-based businesses.
So by extracting a promise from New Jersey for $5 billion in incentives, the Amazon sweepstakes has us begging the question: Why not use some of that money for our own? By at least putting that option in the discussion for the state’s power base to chew on, Jeff Bezos and Amazon have already had a massive influence on where New Jersey invests from here — win or lose in Newark.