Chance 2 at HQ2? N.J. has been courting Amazon for weeks, source tells ROI-NJ

Washington Post reported Friday that e-commerce giant, flustered by resistance from New York City, may abandon location for planned campus, 25,000 jobs

By Tom Bergeron and Anjalee Khemlani
Newark | Feb 8, 2019 at 2:26 pm

It is unclear if Amazon truly is considering pulling its HQ2 project out of New York City — as was reported Friday morning by the Washington Post — but this much is clear: Officials from New Jersey have been courting the company for some time, selling Newark as a viable and cost-effective alternative.

The information comes from a source involved in the discussions, but one who requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak on the subject, combined with a heightened sensitivity on the matter.

The state has made calls to Amazon officials to express its continued interest to take over the project — one that promises 25,000 jobs — the source told ROI-NJ on Friday afternoon.

The source said the state also has been reaching out to New York officials with suggestions of sharing the project, as was previously reported in ROI-NJ.

Newark was one of 20 finalists for the HQ2 project, a second headquarters that promised 50,000 jobs to the winner. New York — Long Island City, specifically — was selected as a co-winner, along with land in Northern Virginia, in November.

The source said New Jersey officials have not been given any indication that Amazon is considering moving out of New York.

“No one knows for sure if (the article) is true, and Amazon has been pretty tight-lipped on if they have wandering eyes,” the source said.

The source said the article could be a trial balloon for either side: It could be the New York community sending a signal to Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, or it could be Bezos testing the waters.

“Bezos is one of those guys who doesn’t like to lose, so does he fight it and win it or does he just (go) elsewhere?” the source said. “We’re pretty sure the other 18 cities would take them in a heartbeat.

“So, do you go with the girl that loves you and wants you, or do you fight for the one that you really want?”

The source said New Jersey officials have told Amazon that Newark would be the most logical spot to relocate, since so many of Amazon’s officials involved in the move already are familiar with the area.

Friday morning was the first time anyone reported Amazon may have a change of heart.

The Washington Post — citing two people who were familiar with company’s thinking — said the company is considering pulling out of the deal after continually running into resistance from some local New York officials.

The Post story said Amazon has not leased or purchased office space in New York. Amazon has done so in Northern Virginia.

According to the Post story: “Amazon executives have had internal discussions recently to reassess the situation in New York and explore alternatives, said the two people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak candidly about the company’s perspective.”

It is unclear who the sources of the report are, but it must be noted that the Post is owned by Bezos.

This much is certain: The plan to give Amazon tax breaks of $3 billion to come to Long Island City has been met with resistance and backlash from some local groups and politicians, almost since the day it was announced that the area was co-winner of an RFP process that attracted more than 200 proposals from across North America.

New Jersey and Newark officials can only hope Amazon changes its mind.

The source, however, said any excitement over a story citing unnamed sources needs to be tempered.

But, the source said, “There are some folks making it clear (in New York) that Amazon will never come to New York.”

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ROI-NJ Staff | editorial@roi-nj.com | @ROINJNews