On Monday at the Rutgers Business School, Gov. Chris Christie decisively announced that the city of Newark had won the competition to have the state’s full support in a bid to land Amazon’s new headquarters.
“Let me be clear on this: Newark was the clear winner of this competition,” he said. “Newark has earned the state’s support. And I want to thank (Mayor Ras Baraka) and his team that he put together. They did an extraordinary job putting Newark’s best foot forward.”
Christie, standing with Baraka and Cory Booker, a current U.S. senator and former mayor of Newark, said the city will be the only place in the state that has the support of the governor’s office in the effort to land the “HQ2” facility, which could bring billions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs to the chosen municipality.
“I’m sure other states might approach it differently and allow for multiple applicants sponsored by the state, but Booker and I have always been the same on this: We’re not for participation trophies,” Christie said. “In every competition, there are winners and those who come close but don’t win.”
Christie said the city’s higher education partners, technology center and unique arts offerings made it the easy pick for him.
“As you look at what the criteria of what Amazon is looking for, Newark clearly represents the heart and soul of that (request for proposals),” he said.
Amazon, he said, can also count on the full support of his administration — and the next.
“Amazon will benefit from the support of bipartisan officials,” he said. “Not just Sen. Booker and Mayor Baraka here with me, but we also have the support in writing of all the leaders of the state Legislature, saying the economic incentive package that we want to put forward will be passed during the lame duck session and will be signed by this governor.
“And it also has the support of both of the major party candidates for governor. So, Amazon should have no concern that we’re in the middle of an election year; we have taken election year uncertainty out of the process.”
The legislation promises Amazon at least $5 billion in incentives, though Christie says the number can be over $7 billion once other variables come into play.
Booker feels they will.
“Newark, New Jersey, has often been maligned over the previous decade, but let’s tell the truth about this incredible city,” he said. “For centuries, Newark led this nation in innovation, in invention, in industry. For centuries, Newark was one of America’s premier cities. This city was celebrated both for its business, but (also) its livability.
“We saw tough times, like all major Northeast industrial cities saw tough times. But the truth of Newark in the last decade-plus has been a city charging back and reclaiming its space, step by step, as one of America’s great cities.”
A city, Booker said, that is now perfect for business.
“We have a record now of achievement, and it’s not only marked by parks and supermarkets — to the credit of this great mayor — but it’s also showing that businesses are choosing Newark because of the unassailable business case for this city,” he said. “Whether it’s corporations moving their North America headquarters back here like Amazon, or traditional corporations that never gave up on Newark that are now doubling down, like Prudential.
“Newark, New Jersey, isn’t a charity case, it is the choice for companies that want to locate and remain competitive and be strong not just in Jersey, not just our nation, but in a global context.
“Amazon would be smart to come here.”
Baraka, as he often does, got the final word.
“Everything else is a cliché,” he said. “New Jersey and Newark is the place to be.”