In the wake of an announcement that mega e-tailer Amazon will withdraw its plans to build a sprawling new headquarters in Long Island City, Queens, neighboring states and business leaders are clamoring to capitalize on what they see as the city’s spoils.
Among the entrants into the reinvigorated race for Amazon’s affection is Newark, NJ.
According to Aisha Glover, president and CEO of Newark Alliance, a nonprofit focusing on the economic revitalization of Newark, New Jersey, her overture to Amazon predated the company’s decision to leave New York behind.
“We mostly reached out while the initial pushback was happening,” said Glover. “We wanted more for them to just keep us in the back of their minds.”
Glover said there aren’t any serious talks between the two yet regarding the company’s prospects for an East Coast headquarters yet, but Newark is more than just a viable option if and when that moment arises.
“We are at the center of the largest and most diverse talent pool in the country,” said Glover. “No other city can compete with that outside of New York.”
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka mirrored Glover’s sentiments in a recent statement on Amazon’s New York turnaround.
“Given the city and state’s assets — a strong talent pipeline, a diverse tech base, unmatched infrastructure and a highly accessible location – we are well poised to accommodate Amazon should they want to relocate New York City’s portion of HQ2, in whole or part,” said Baraka. “We welcome the opportunity to resume conversations with Amazon and provide them an opportunity to be a part of its renaissance.”
On Monday, Feb. 18, New Jersey Sen. and presidential hopeful, Cory Booker, also affirmed his support in bringing Amazon to the state of New Jersey.
Newark was among the surprise cities to make Amazon’s shortlist of potential landing spots for its new headquarters and is already home to Audible, Amazon’s audiobook division, which employs 1,000 people.
Despite the apparent power of an organized and vehement movement against Amazon’s plans in New York City, Glover said that a similar proposal in her city doesn’t have to befall the same fate.
“Look, in any city, advocates are going to express concern, as they should,” said Glover. We went about it slightly different — it was a transparent process. We’ve been pretty forward with Amazon in the process to let them know that it is a community-driven initiative. We wouldn’t be approaching this any different than any other large-scale development.”
For the company, a move away from the mainstream metro areas represents more than just a business opportunity, said Glover.
“It’s really being able to be part of a city’s renaissance. It’s an opportunity to be part of something bigger.”
While Amazon — who said that it feared investing significant time and resources into a plan that could be felled by opposition — has stated that it is not yet in search of a new home for its much anticipated HQ2, that proclamation hasn’t stopped other nearby cities from putting out feelers.
In a statement following Amazon’s announcement, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont said that in-state representation has already reached out to the company to help facilitate a potential partnership.
“Upon the [first] indication, days ago, that there may be trouble with Amazon’s proposed deal with [New York], we mobilized our new Partnership to Advance the Connecticut of Tomorrow…,” said Lamont in a post on Twitter.
“The state has already made an outreach to Amazon through its in-state representation, and we are looking forward to expanding the dialogue.”
Several cities in Connecticut were among the original respondents to Amazon’s request for proposals regarding a new headquarters, but none made the list of 20 finalists.
Renewed calls to host Amazon’s headquarters have followed the announcement that it would be reneging on its intention to build a vast Long Island City campus — a decision that Amazon says was spurred by backlash from city politicians and activists who criticized the company for taking advantage of $3 billion worth of incentives and cast doubt on the potential headquarters’ impact on infrastructure and housing.
A preliminary plan for HQ2 was projected to create between 25,000 to 40,000 additional jobs with eight million s/f across two separate Long Island City sites, the largest of which was slated for a property owned by plastic manufacturers, Plaxall, on the Anable Boat Basin.