Audible founder and CEO Donald Katz has been named chairman of Brick City Development Corp., the Newark economic development agency said Monday.
Katz, who moved the online audio book provider to the city in 2007, replaces former Newark Deputy Mayor Adam Zipkin after serving three years as a BCDC board member, the agency said in a news release. In his new role, Katz is expected to help the BCDC focus on drawing the technology sector and other growth-minded industries.
"Opportunities to attract young companies that will grow jobs in Newark abound, as do next‐generation training programs and job growth that can help Newark's manufacturing economy," Katz said in a prepared statement. "A focused BCDC can play an essential role in connecting Newark to the job growth economy and, with that, increase our tax base to support services and investment in a better future."
Katz has raised his voice in recent years about finding new ways to spur economic development in the state's largest city. He has called for focusing on investment in entrepreneurial companies and the types of street-level amenities that draw young professionals to cities.
Business leaders say Katz, who was named to the NJBIZ Power 100 list last month, has led by example since moving Audible's headquarters from Wayne to downtown Newark, growing from 125 employees at the time to around 600. The 19-year-old company, an Amazon subsidiary, is located at 1 Washington Place.
Katz's move to the new role comes as Lyneir Richardson, BCDC's chief executive, prepares to leave next month to lead the Center for Entrepreneurship and Economic Development at the nearby Rutgers Business School. In a prepared statement, Richardson said Katz "has the vision to engage the city's future leadership and to shepherd BCDC into Newark's next era."
He replaces Zipkin, a former deputy mayor for economic and housing development who was popular and well-respected within the commercial real estate industry. Zipkin stepped down after former Mayor Cory Booker won election to the U.S. Senate.
BCDC was founded in 2007 under Booker, preceding a wave of new development that has brought great attention to Newark in recent years. The organization helps finance and assist commercial real estate projects, business development and efforts to build the city as a tourism destination.
Katz said "Newark continues to be an ideal place to connect" with the tech industry, pointing to its transportation infrastructure, proximity to New York City, cultural amenities and the presence of more than 40,000 college students. Such an industry "creates fast-growth young companies, jobs and … housing and entertainment opportunities that can reach into all neighborhoods," he said.
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