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EDA approves incentives for JP Morgan Chase, RBC projects in Jersey City

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EDA President Tim Lizura.
EDA President Tim Lizura. - (NJBIZ File)

The Economic Development Authority voted Friday to approve incentives for two Jersey City-based projects involving JP Morgan Chase and RBC Capital Markets.

JP Morgan, which currently holds three in-state “major offices” in Jersey City, Whippany and Iselin, is considering expanding its regional technology and operations hub at its Jersey City location on Washington Boulevard. The project would involve the retention of 2,612 employees and lead to the creation of 1,000 new jobs at the site.

Despite it being mentioned in the EDA's project documents of future consolidation of some of the company's New Jersey operations in Jersey City, spokesperson Melissa Shuffield said there are no immediate plans to do so.

The EDA, which estimates the project will yield a net benefit to the state of $1.1 billion over a 20-year period, voted to approve it for an annual $22.4 million, 10-year Grow NJ award.

EDA President Tim Lizura noted that JP Morgan is weighing its options in Jersey City against potential sites in Delaware and Ohio. It was last year’s Economic Opportunity Act that sparked the company’s interest in the state, Lizura said.

“Before the law, they had not considered New Jersey,” Lizura said.

Thanking Gov. Chris Christie's administration, JP Morgan Chief Operating Officer Matt Zames said the Grow NJ program allowed the project to become a reality.

"We've invested in this community for nearly two centuries, and this agreement only deepens that commitment for the long term," Zames said.

The board also voted to approve an annual $7.8 million, 10-year Grow NJ award for Canadian financial firm RBC, which is considering between renovating a 206,861-square-foot space in the Goldman Sachs Tower or a 211,500-square-foot facility in Minnesota.

RBC’s move, which would bring 900 new jobs along with it, is being sparked by upcoming lease expirations at One Liberty Plaza and World Financial Center in Manhattan.

The EDA estimates that RBC’s Jersey City project would offer a net benefit to the state of $295.7 million over a 20-year period.

Following the vote, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop applauded the news, adding that it’s evident that the city is “leading the state economy in terms of job creation and is the driving force in lifting New Jersey out of the recession.”

“This announcement from the EDA that JP Morgan and RBC — two major financial firms — will bring thousands of new jobs and expand in Jersey City is a huge win for Jersey City and New Jersey as we continue to attract development, investment and employment opportunities,” Fulop said.

Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno added that Jersey City and its surrounding area has become a “sweet spot” for New Jersey in its attempt to lure New York’s financial sector across the Hudson.

“As New York’s financial services sector looks for other places to go, they want to look someplace convenient to New York,” Guadagno said. “I regularly say, ‘Keep your New York address on the first floor of your building in New York and move the rest of your business to Jersey City.’ We’ll take it.”

Gordon MacInnes, president of liberal think tank New Jersey Policy Perspective, criticized the move, specifically calling out the award approved for JP Morgan as "truly mind-boggling."

"At a time when the state is facing a fiscal crisis and discussing serious cuts to public services, one has to question the wisdom of giving up such a large amount of revenue over the next decade for a single project," MacInnes said. "This race to the bottom on taxes is not the answer to our state's economic malaise. Instead, we need to focus on the assets that made the state attractive to business in the first place: our location, high-quality public schools and safe, efficient infrastructure."

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Andrew George

Andrew George

Andrew George covers the Statehouse from NJBIZ's Trenton bureau. Born and raised in N.J., Andrew has also spent time as a reporter in D.C., Texas and Pa. His email is andrewg@njbiz.com and he is @AndrGeorge on Twitter.

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