- Earlier this year, Amazon chose 20 North American cities as finalists to receive its second headquarters, HQ2.
- Amazon officials have started making visits to the top cities, most recently Newark, New Jersey this week.
- The state is offering Amazon one of the biggest economic incentives in a bid to land HQ2.
The company says that its new $US5 billion campus will bring an estimated 50,000 jobs.
Amazon’s HQ2 search committee has started visiting the potential sites, most recently in Newark, New Jersey. The city’s Community Economic Development Corporation told NJ.com on Friday that Amazon officials came to Newark this week. Local and state officials who met with the company included US Sen. Cory Booker, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, businessman and philanthropist Ray Chambers, and Gov. Phil Murphy.
The state is trying to sweeten the deal by offering Amazon a hefty incentives package. Late last year, former Gov. Chris Christie approved tax breaks that would total about $US7 billion.
The plan will expand a subsidy program, Grow NJ, and provide extensive economic incentives for companies (like Amazon) that launch “transformative projects.” It would raise the cap on subsidies to $US10,000 from $US5,000 for every job Amazon creates.
The incentives may reach $US5 billion over the next decade, according to The Observer. The remaining tax breaks would come from a $US1 billion city property-tax subsidy and a wage-tax waiver of $US1 billion for Amazon employees over the next 20 years.
Many finalist metros are attempting to lure Amazon through economic incentives in the form of tax credits. In Georgia, economic incentives are expected to top $US1 billion,according to The Atlanta Business Chronicle. And Philadelphia is reportedly considering a tax exemption worth up to $US2 billion over 10 years, The Inquirer reports.
But so far, it looks like Maryland could be offering Amazon the most money. In early April, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan approved $US6.5 billion in tax incentives for Amazon, with an additional $US2 billion in promised infrastructure and transportation improvements for Montgomery County, according to The Baltimore Sun.
Newark’s proposal includes a redevelopment of the city’s riverfront area for the site of HQ2, a representative from the project’s developer, Lotus Equity, confirmed to Business Insider late last year. The project will happen regardless of whether Amazon comes to Newark.
Designed by four architecture firms, the neighbourhood’s masterplan calls for redeveloping 11.5 acres near downtown. The project includes 1,800 housing units, a 150,000-square-foot hotel, 100,000 square feet of retail space, a 30,000-square-foot food hall, 30,000 square feet of public space, up to 3,000 parking spaces, and up to 2 million square feet of commercial space. It also calls for demolishing the former New Jersey Bears stadium.
There is no set timeline for when Lotus will break ground on the project, led by the Practice for Architecture and Urbanism. Michael Green Architecture and TEN Arquitectos are also involved, while Minno & Wasko Architects and Planners is the architect of record.
Just 10 miles west of Manhattan, Newark has tried to launch a large-scale economic revival for decades.
The city faces competition from other large cities like Washington, DC, Boston, and New York City for HQ2. The company has already travelled to DC, Chicago, and Denver to speak with local officials about their proposals. Amazon officials will soon visit NYC and plans to make a decision in 2018.
The company is likely to choose a city that offers substantial tax breaks, so Newark’s bid makes sense. Amazon’s proposal guidelines say that it “may require special incentive legislation in order for the state/province to achieve a competitive incentive proposal.”
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