Panasonic's new North American headquarters in Newark has long been hailed as a model of sustainable design and a project that's helped energize New Jersey's largest city. And this morning, CEO Joe Taylor touted a new credential for the gleaming tower.
"This building is also another step in our transformation to a B2B company," Taylor told employees, business leaders and public officials at a ceremony inside the riverfront office, built by SJP Properties and Matrix Development Group.
Some 1,000 employees began to occupy the new headquarters in July, but the dignitaries gathered today to officially open its doors. During a speech, Taylor noted only about 20 percent of the company's North American revenue comes from consumer electronics; the rest comes from business-to-business solutions for customers in fields such as the automotive industry, avionics, and sports and entertainment venues.
He pointed to the new "innovation center" in the ground floor of the 12-story building, an exhibition space along McCarter Highway with products such as appliances, in-flight entertainment systems and vehicle consoles on display. The space is Panasonic's "first innovation center outside Japan where we can display technologies across our portfolios, across our breadth of customers," Taylor said.
"We're going to use this primarily to educate our business partners," he said. "But it's also my expectation that community organizations will be able make use of seeing the kinds of technologies that major corporations around the world are offering."
The $200 million development project was aided by a $102.4 million Urban Transit Hub tax credit that helped lure the electronics giant from its former base in Secaucus. It also helped spark the creation of the Grow New Jersey program after Panasonic's former landlord, Hartz Mountain, briefly tried to block it from moving some 10 miles to Newark.
Early last year, Grow New Jersey emerged as an option to aid business growth in certain suburban areas, and it was one of the surviving programs in the overhaul of state incentive programs that's awaiting Gov. Chris Christie's signature.
Today's event was held on the 54th anniversary of the establishment of Panasonic Corp.'s establishment in North America, Taylor said.
During his own remarks, Christie recalled that as stakeholders were trying to finalize Panasonic's move to Newark, "there were some difficult moments in getting this done."
"That means sometimes you have to fight … to be able to protect what the Legislature intended and what we want for growing our state, and not allow other people's personal interests to get in the way of growth for a city like Newark," Christie said.
Panasonic will occupy 10 floors in the 340,000-square-foot facility, which is a block from Newark Penn Station. Taylor said today that employees receive subsidies to take mass transit to work.