Newark Mayor Ras Baraka says that while his city has “a lot more work to do,” he and his team are celebrating his city’s selection as one of 20 cities to make it to the next round of consideration for Amazon’s HQ2 project.
Amazon released its new short list Jan. 18, with New York City and Philadelphia also making the cut for the e-commerce giant’s second North American headquarters.
More than twenty other New Jersey locations submitted bids for HQ2, but only Newark was selected from New Jersey to be among the 20 metros to receive further consideration. Newark’s bid received the endorsement of former Gov. Chris Christie.
“There is a story that Amazon could tell about how they were a part of expediting a city’s growth," Baraka said after Amazon’s latest list of cities was released. "A city that is like a phoenix in a fire and continues to move forward despite all the obstacles. Amazon gets to come here and expedite that, fashioning and forming a story of a city 50 years in the making.”
Baraka also thanked Newark Economic Development Corp. President and CEO Aisha Glover for having led the campaign to promote Newark to state officials and Amazon.
"The fact that we are on the short list reflects the powerful collaborative effort that went into pitching Amazon: Gov. Christie, Gov. Murphy, Sen. Booker, the State Legislature, Newark Economic Development Corp., all of our major corporations, universities, and anchor institutions,” Barak said in a statement. “This is how we get things done in Newark. We come together as a city and our skill in collaboration is itself something that will enormously benefit Amazon.”
In all, 238 proposals were submitted for consideration to be home to the so-called HQ2. One of those came from Jersey City.
"We want to congratulate the Economic Development team at Newark and the staff and leadership at Choose New Jersey and the New Jersey EDA for their work,” Jersey City Deputy Mayor Marcos Vigil told NJBIZ. “Newark’s inclusion is a testament to the strength of the regional economy. The fact that it was included along with NYC is still a good harbinger for the future of Jersey City."
In its announcement, Amazon discussed next steps with the 20 finalists.
“Amazon evaluated each of the proposals based on the criteria outlined in the RFP to create the list of 20 HQ2 candidates that will continue in the selection process,” the company said. “In the coming months, Amazon will work with each of the candidate locations to dive deeper into their proposals, request additional information, and evaluate the feasibility of a future partnership that can accommodate the company’s hiring plans as well as benefit its employees and the local community.”
Amazon said it expects to make a final decision later this year.
The 20 metros to make it to the next phase were: Atlanta; Austin, Texas; Boston; Chicago; Columbus, Ohio; Dallas; Denver; Indianapolis; Los Angeles; Miami; Montgomery County, Md.; Nashville, Tenn.; northern Virginia; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Raleigh, N.C.; Toronto; Washington, D.C.; and Newark and New York City.
“Thank you to all 238 communities that submitted proposals,” Amazon Public Policy Officer Holly Sullivan said in a statement. “Getting from 238 to 20 was very tough – all the proposals showed tremendous enthusiasm and creativity. Through this process we learned about many new communities across North America that we will consider as locations for future infrastructure investment and job creation.”
Amazon’s HQ2 will be an investment of over $5 billion and may accommodate as many as 50,000 new employees. The firm said it expects its investment to also add thousands of construction jobs as well.
In October, Christie announced the state would back Newark’s bid and make up $5 billion in tax incentives available. The city of Newark also committed to a $2 billion city property tax and wage tax waiver.
But despite the economic advantages the city and state are touting should Amazon ultimately choose Newark, not everyone is sanguine about the project’s viability.
"We're glad to see Newark on Amazon's short list for its new headquarters, as we've said all along that New Jersey's largest city would make a prime location for the company's HQ2 project,” said Jon Whiten, vice president of policy analyst New Jersey Policy Perspective, in a statement. “But we remain wary of the steep price tag for taxpayers that state and local lawmakers have already put on this project. By putting at least $5 billion, and potentially several billion dollars more, in taxpayer dollars on the table so early in the game, New Jersey has ensured that is returns will be minimized if Amazon were to ultimately choose the state.”