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Newark Chases After Amazon

HOST INTRO: After the news about Amazon broke yesterday, across the river New Jersey residents and politicians spoke out. Many want Amazon to reconsider Newark for its HQ2 location. After all, Newark was a finalist. As Lauren Lantry reports, the city is happy to be reconsidered less than four months after being rejected.

LAUREN: On the almost empty campus of Essex County College this morning in Newark Michael Watkiss is wearing a camel suit and scarf combo. He has a message for Jeff Bezos.

MICHAEL WATKISS: Come on over, we’ll welcome you!

LAUREN: Watkiss says that Amazon coming to Newark would create jobs for residents.

WATKISS: I think it would be a big blessing and a big boost for the economic development for the city of Newark.

LAUREN: Three blocks away, on a bustling Market street, Berselle Scott and Mary Griffin have similar sentiments. The two friends are waiting for the bus.

BERSELLE AND MARY: More jobs, yeah, exactly. More jobs // Put some jobs out for our people, we need them. Yeah, you support us, we support you.

LAUREN: Unlike New Yorkers, Scott and Griffin say they understand that Amazon wants a warm welcome. This kind of support is what Amazon is looking for. In a statement released yesterday, it said it would not move forward with plans in Long Island City because it didn’t feel supported by the community or politicians. Even though Amazon isn’t looking to relocate, New Jersey is ready to be considered again. Here’s Governor Phil Murphy speaking on CNBC this morning.

PHIL MURPHY: As they reconsider their strategic footprint // Newark should be a part of that // And the welcome mat is out for business.

LAUREN: Newark is looking to create more jobs. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over a quarter of the population lives under the poverty line. Newark is a pocket of high unemployment in New Jersey. Almost 8% of residents are unemployed, like James Alives is one of the unemployed. He is standing at outside of a dunkin donuts hanging out with his friends.

LAUREN:  Would you want Amazon to come to Newark?

JAMIE AVILES: Of course, why not. It’s easy, it’s closer to us. // It would definitely bring a lot of opportunities for a lot of folks out here.

LAUREN: Newark Mayor Ross Baraka thinks Amazon is the answer to the city’s problems, so he’s ready to provide major incentives for the company. He helped to pass legislation offering Amazon 7 billion dollars in tax incentives. And the city has buildings set aside ready to house Amazon headquarters.

LAUREN: But there are still a few skeptics. As Andrew Kim stolls by, he says New Jersey overbid.

ANDREW: 7 billion dollars worth of tax incentives is a little high.

LAUREN: Newark was prepared to give 7 billion, four times what New York offered. Christopher Cardenoza works at the Prudential Center. He says Amazon shouldn’t receive any incentives at all. Either all businesses should get incentives or none.

CHRISTOPHER: You know, they shouldn’t get any tax credits. If want to come here as a legitimate company, then fine.

LAUREN: So far, Amazon doesn’t. But Newark is prepared to wait. After all, second time’s the charm. Lauren Lantry, Columbia Radio News.


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