Senate panel advances Amazon incentives bill

The state Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee advanced a bill geared to attracting Amazon’s HQ2 with billions of dollars in incentives.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Ray Lesniak (D-Union) and Sen. Sam Thompson (R-Old Bridge), would create a “Transformative Headquarters Economic Assistance Program” under the New Jersey Economic Development Authority to grant tax credits for any company establishing a corporate headquarters in New Jersey.

“This is an opportunity to create good-paying jobs and to generate long-term economic growth for New Jersey,” Lesniak said in a statement. “We should go for it. We possess the assets that will allow Amazon to thrive with a skilled workforce, a quality transportation infrastructure, the best research universities in the country and a strategic location. By presenting Amazon with a specific plan showcasing our strengths and offering tangible incentives, we put New Jersey in a very strong competitive position.”

The bill established a requirement to create at least 30,000 new full-time jobs and represent a capital investment of at least $3 billion. Amazon has stated in its request for proposals the new headquarters will result in 50,000 new full-time hires and a $5 billion investment.

More complex in the bill is a requirement that the new headquarters yield a net benefit of at least 115 percent of the tax credits to the state, over a 50-year period. If, by the 20th year, the company doesn’t meet the job creation and capital investment requirements, it will no longer receive tax credits for “incomplete phases” and would receive lower tax credits for others, according to the bill.

(READ MORE from ROI-NJ on New Jersey’s efforts to land Amazon’s HQ2.)

The bill also requires the company to certify that the tax credit is a key reason it chose New Jersey.

“There’s bipartisan consensus that New Jersey should compete for Amazon’s HQ2 and other transformative projects that have the potential to yield massive benefits to the state’s economy,” Thompson said in a statement. “When a company like Amazon is looking to invest billions and create tens of thousands of jobs, we simply cannot afford to be overlooked. This legislation sends the message that New Jersey is a serious contender.”

An identical bill, sponsored by Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Secaucus), also advanced in an Assembly committee.