Newark may lack some of the pizzazz of its neighbor across the Hudson River, but city and state officials have something else they hope will dazzle Amazon: lots of money. New Jersey is offering a package of $7 billion in state and local incentives, the largest offer of any of the 20 finalists, or at least those whose bids have been made public. Gov. Chris Christie signed the package into law shortly before leaving office in January. And while new Gov. Phil Murphy has yet to explicitly endorse the package, a source with knowledge of the governor's thinking says there are no plans to change the offer.
According to New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, the package of incentives to woo Amazon are worth it. "An Amazon win would be great for the city and the state, and get the world's attention. Newark is one of the best kept secrets in America with many competitive advantages. That's why it is growing and making great strides. It's transportation superstructure and tech talent pool from nearby universities are a draw for multinationals. You can hop on a train and get to New York City in 15 minutes."
New Jersey Democratic Governor Phil Murphy said he is on board with the $7 billion in incentives package proposed by the administration of former Governor Chris Christie to lure Amazon. "We've been quite critical that under the Christie administration tax incentives were the only thing we reached for as a weapon to attract companies, and only for big companies, but I have to tell you, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Governor Murphy said.
Murphy rejected the argument that a $7 billion package for a company with $140 billion in revenue made little sense at a time when the state's middle class needs relief. "It's not an either/or," he said. "We need to deliver property tax relief and relief generally to the middle class that's been ravaged over the past eight years, and we will do that. ... But the prospect of a company that can create 50,000 jobs on their own and another 50,000 or more ancillary jobs in the economy ... those are opportunities that don't come along every day by a long shot."
In contrast, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has not offered any details on what his state might offer. Mayor de Blasio has said the only city incentives would come from existing programs.
Newark is a transportation hub in its own right, with an extensive rail network into Manhattan (an 18-minute train ride away), as well as up and down the Northeast Corridor. There is easy access to the Holland Tunnel and ferries to New York, and Newark Liberty International Airport is minutes away from downtown.