Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy made a case Monday afternoon for e-commerce giant Amazon to make New Jersey the home of its second headquarters.
In a 10-minute conference call, during which he did not take questions from the media, Murphy invoked New Jersey’s glory days as a manufacturing center, while simultaneously pandering to Amazon’s interests in education.
Murphy said that the call was “not about politics, this is about substance and getting our economy back together.”
He spent several minutes at the start of the call pitching investment in education — including higher education, free community college, better vocational and trade training, and better funding for K-12 education.
Amazon, as an employer, is known for its education benefits.
According to the company’s website: “After associates have been employed by Amazon for as little as one continuous year, the Amazon Career Choice Program will pre-pay 95 percent of tuition and fees for them to earn certificates and associate degrees in high-demand occupations such as aircraft mechanics, computer-aided design, machine tool technologies, medical lab technologies, nursing and many other fields. In addition, Amazon will also reimburse 95 percent of the cost of all required textbooks. The program will pay up to $12,000 in tuition, textbooks and associated fees over four years.”
Murphy said investing in education will also help grow “our middle class, which has been incredibly hollowed out.”
He also focused his rhetoric on the idea of New Jersey’s rebirth as an innovation hub, such as the time when Bell Labs in Holmdel was nationally known, and as a manufacturing hub, such as the history of the state’s capital city, Trenton.
Amazon is currently one of the largest private-sector employers in New Jersey, with warehouses throughout the state, and Murphy said the Garden State has a lot of what the company is looking for.
“No state in the union is better suited to be Amazon’s new home than New Jersey. Period. Full stop,” Murphy said. “We are the most diverse state in the nation. We wear that as a badge of honor.
He added that diversity is something Amazon and other “21st-century players” are looking for.
He touted the Garden State’s diverse work force and proximity to airports and ports.
“We have the location, and there are many choices in the state, let there be no doubt. We have the ports, the international airport, the diversity, the outstanding institutions of higher education, and the density that has allowed companies like Amazon to thrive in our state for decades,” Murphy said.
“I want to see Amazon invest and grow in New Jersey. Period.”
He added that, if elected governor, he would lend his support to the municipalities putting in bids for Amazon HQ2.