With economic development, Newark looks to its own

Charlie Marchesani, president of the Global Technology and Operations division of Broadridge Financial Solutions, rattled off some of the reasons why the fintech company moved its more than 1,000 employees to the Newark.

Prudential … Panasonic … Audible … Rutgers-Newark.

“When we talked to the other stakeholders who are here, what came through on every call was the enthusiasm and passion about being on Team Newark,” he said.

“Unsolicited, they are sharing the warts and everything they passionately believe about this community. When I was listening to that and we were looking at other places, I said, ‘I want to be somewhere where people talk about it the way they do.’ ”

Of all the measurables of Newark’s success in recent years — from construction starts to the number of cranes to the completion of projects and renovations — Marchesani’s comments describe an atmosphere Newark city officials have long wanted but could only have dreamed of until recently.

The city is selling itself.

Broadridge celebrated its move from Jersey City to 2 Gateway Center last week. And while the more than $20 million in state Economic Development Authority incentives helped the company relocate, Broadridge and Newark officials point out that the company did have a choice — and picked Newark.

Aisha Glover, the CEO and president of the Newark Community Economic Development Corp., said that point should not be lost.

“When you’re moving from one city to another within a state, there has to be a sizeable reason,” she said. “For us, it’s the culture and the community here.”

Glover said she has seen the community step up time and again since taking over.

“I’ve only been here two years, and I’m not sure what it used to be like, but I can certainly attest to how real the spirit of cooperation is,” she said.

“You think it’s just lip service, but the corporations actually rely on one another. I introduced (Broadridge head of external relations) Mike Hopkins to the other Mike Hopkins of Newark and said they do what you do in their corporations, and it really helped with their onboarding. It’s really just genuine, sort of, ‘If you’re coming in, I’ll give you the inside scoop on how things work in Newark and why they’ve been positive for us and our staff.’”

Glover said talking with other members of the business community will give potential companies the real story about Newark. It’s a story she acknowledges can still be a tough sell.

“The reality is, some of them have very legitimate concerns and their staff isn’t so gung-ho because of perceptions about Newark,” she said. “But when they speak to other employers and when they speak to other folks who are working here, but don’t necessarily live here, they just have a better understanding.

“So, it’s gone really well. It’s been an easy tool for us to say, ‘Go talk to our corporate community.’ We’re supposed to say it, we’re supposed to be selling the city, but, if you can see it first-person from another citizen, it’s just easier for us.”

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said bringing Broadridge to Newark was a team effort.

“I want to thank all of the partners we have, both public and private, who have double- and triple-teamed Broadridge to make sure they made this decision,” he said at the ribbon-cutting. “It’s probably the first time we’ve been on the same page for a few months now, maybe a couple years.

“We are churning it out because we all benefit. Broadridge benefits, the city benefits, the residents benefit, other institutions benefit, so we are happy about this day.”

Nancy Cantor, who took over as chancellor of Rutgers University-Newark in 2014, said she was happy to play a part. And said she has seen a big difference in opinions about the city since coming to the school.

“The real key is that it’s a key across sectors, large organizations, small, everybody is saying this is the place to be,” she said. “We’ve got a talent pool that is really the talent pool of the future. The diversity in this city is the future.

“I think what’s happening is that everybody is rowing in the same direction, so there’s a real sense of being in this together. That is everything. There is a real sense of optimism, there’s a real sense of we can help each other. We can feed talent. We can hire. We can live. We can buy. There’s just a real sense of disruptive innovation happening.”

Glover said the community backing will only help moving forward.

“In our Amazon proposal, we just said, ‘Hey, if anybody is interested in lending support, let us know — and we had a huge stack of corporate support leaders, really giving their own testimonials about why this is such a great corporate community here,” she said.

Amazon obviously is the ultimate, but Glover said Broadridge’s reach should not be underestimated, too.

Newark has long pitched its internet speed — something Broadridge can take advantage of.

“We understand the value of the infrastructure here and having that tech infrastructure here,” she said. “We’re hoping that you leverage that. We sold that and hyped it up in our proposal to Amazon, we included Broadridge in that narrative because we do see the value of having such a major tech anchor like them.”

Broadridge officials said they are eager to be a part of the Newark community and will do their part in helping others pick Newark.

“We’re excited to be here,” Marchesani said. “If you just walk around the hallways and see our associates and the energy level here, it’s absolutely fabulous. We’re thrilled to come into this community and thrilled to be an active participant in this community and help Newark grow and thrive.

“We had other choices and, as a team, we unanimously decided to come here.”

(READ MORE from ROI-NJ on Broadridge coming to Newark.)

Marchesani said the business atmosphere is right for Broadridge.

“I continue to get tremendous feedback from our associates about the new location, the community, the building, the design,” he said. “I love coming here. I walk in and I feel a tremendous energy from our associates with what we’ve been able to accomplish here and that is translating into levels of communication and collaboration that we didn’t have before.”

Marchesani gets the same feeling outside the office.

“It is amazing what’s going on, from the commitment of the stakeholders who are here and expanding to the new fintech stuff that’s coming in, it’s just great,” he said.

“We had a long conversation with the people from Prudential, and they’ve obviously been a long-term member of the community. Panasonic was great.

“And Audible was an important conversation for us, because we’re a fintech company. When we’re talking to the people from Audible, an Amazon company, and they are investing and expanding and recruiting in Newark, we said, ‘This works.’”