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Editorial: Is there a state, county, city or suburb that doesn’t want to host Amazon’s planned “HQ2”?

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Doesn’t seem like it. How could anyone not want the $5 billion investment and the 50,000 new jobs that Amazon says its second North American headquarters would entail? Those kinds of numbers are game-changers from Manhattan to Dubuque.

And if you ask us, New Jersey has as good a chance as anyplace to lure the online retail giant.

 

Amazon says it’s looking for a metropolitan area with more than 1 million people, a stable and business-friendly environment, locations with the potential to attract technical talent, and communities that think big and creatively.

Newark, Jersey City, and New Brunswick all say they have what it takes — and they do. NJSpotlight even suggested that Camden and Atlantic City, which are designated “growth zones” eligible for the state’s most generous tax incentives, could be contenders. Who knows? Atlantic City would have to be considered the longest of the longshots, but the sleek, glittering, futuristic former Revel casino hotel — now empty — does seem like something that would catch the eye of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

Amazon’s request for proposals says submissions are due Oct. 19. That’s not much time to put together a proposal of this magnitude. But the New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s “Grow New Jersey” program, which has already approved billions of dollars in tax credits to spur development in the state, is well-poised to ramp up quickly.

Bezos says Amazon’s HQ2 will be “a full equal to our Seattle headquarters.” So what’s that Seattle headquarters like? Well, it has 33 buildings providing 8.1 million square feet and includes 24 restaurants and eight other retail outlets. Its more than 40,000 employees earn $25.7 billion a year. And, interestingly, it is responsible for generating 233,000 hotel room nights a year used by Amazon employees and others visiting the complex. Amazon says every dollar it has invested in Seattle has generated an additional 1.4 dollars for the city’s economy.

“This is a trophy project, and it would be malfeasance if the N.J. real estate community and the state did not submit a proposal,” John Boyd, of the Princeton-based corporate location consultant The Boyd Company, told NJBIZ.

Of course, just about every good-sized city in the country sees it the same way. Bezos knows exactly what he’s doing — it’s now a bidding war, with every location in the running trying to come up with the most attractive incentive proposal.

Opponents of offering tax credits to lure development say such programs rob state treasuries to provide corporate welfare and warn against “giving away the store” to lure projects like Amazon’s. That criticism is unfair and short-sighted. States, like everyone else, must spend money to make money.

Amazon is also not without its critics in Seattle. Danny Westneat, a Seattle Times columnist, cites rising rents, stressed infrastructure, and the replacement of longtime middle-class bars, restaurants and diners with the new and the sterile.

But Westneat acknowledges that all this amounts to a “prosperity bomb.” And frankly, the problems of too much prosperity beat the alternative.

 

So here’s hoping. Go for it, New Jersey.

Is there a state, county, city or suburb that doesn’t want to host Amazon’s planned “HQ2”?Doesn’t seem like it. How could anyone not want the $5 billion investment and the 50,000 new jobs that Amazon says its second North American headquarters would entail? Those kinds of numbers are game-changers from Manhattan to Dubuque.And if you ask us, New Jersey has as good a chance as anyplace to lure the online retail giant.Amazon says it’s looking for a metropolitan area with more than 1 million people, a stable and business-friendly environment, locations with the potential to attract technical talent, and communities that think big and creatively.Newark, Jersey City, and New Brunswick all say they have what it takes — and they do. NJSpotlight even suggested that Camden and Atlantic City, which are designated “growth zones” eligible for the state’s most generous tax incentives, could be contenders. Who knows? Atlantic City would have to be considered the longest of the longshots, but the sleek, glittering, futuristic former Revel casino hotel — now empty — does seem like something that would catch the eye of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.Amazon’s request for proposals says submissions are due Oct. 19. That’s not much time to put together a proposal of this magnitude. But the New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s “Grow New Jersey” program, which has already approved billions of dollars in tax credits to spur development in the state, is well-poised to ramp up quickly.Bezos says Amazon’s HQ2 will be “a full equal to our Seattle headquarters.” So what’s that Seattle headquarters like? Well, it has 33 buildings providing 8.1 million square feet and includes 24 restaurants and eight other retail outlets. Its more than 40,000 employees earn $25.7 billion a year. And, interestingly, it is responsible for generating 233,000 hotel room nights a year used by Amazon employees and others visiting the complex. Amazon says every dollar it has invested in Seattle has generated an additional 1.4 dollars for the city’s economy.“This is a trophy project, and it would be malfeasance if the N.J. real estate community and the state did not submit a proposal,” John Boyd, of the Princeton-based corporate location consultant The Boyd Company, told NJBIZ.Of course, just about every good-sized city in the country sees it the same way. Bezos knows exactly what he’s doing — it’s now a bidding war, with every location in the running trying to come up with the most attractive incentive proposal.Opponents of offering tax credits to lure development say such programs rob state treasuries to provide corporate welfare and warn against “giving away the store” to lure projects like Amazon’s. That criticism is unfair and short-sighted. States, like everyone else, must spend money to make money.Amazon is also not without its critics in Seattle. Danny Westneat, a Seattle Times columnist, cites rising rents, stressed infrastructure, and the replacement of longtime middle-class bars, restaurants and diners with the new and the sterile.But Westneat acknowledges that all this amounts to a “prosperity bomb.” And frankly, the problems of too much prosperity beat the alternative.So here’s hoping. Go for it, New Jersey.

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