New Jersey is among the locations considering a proposal to be home to online retailer Amazon’s planned second headquarters – which could mean 50,000 jobs and $5 billion in investment, though will likely take a big package of tax incentives to land.

Both major parties’ would-be governors appear to be on board with the bid.

“We strongly believe that no state in the union is better suited to be Amazon’s new home than New Jersey. Period, full stop,” said Democratic nominee Phil Murphy.

Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, as secretary of state, has led business recruitment efforts that has already helped the state add around 13,000 Amazon jobs at eight current and future locations, said campaign spokesman Ricky Diaz.

“New Jersey is in the hunt for the Amazon headquarters precisely because of the work Kim Guadagno has done to reach out to the business community and recruit Amazon jobs here. They have a large footprint in New Jersey and would be a natural fit for a headquarters,” Diaz said.

Gov. Chris Christie’s Economic Development Authority is analyzing the opportunity. Jersey City, Newark and New Brunswick have said they’d like to be part of it. Proposals are due Oct. 19, but the company’s decision won’t come until 2018, when New Jersey will have a new governor.

“This goes beyond politics. I want to see Amazon invest and grow in New Jersey, period. And in that respect, we’re reaching out to the administration,” Murphy said. “This is bigger than any of us. It’s bigger than politics.”

Diaz said Murphy’s plan for $1.3 billion in higher taxes on the wealthy, businesses and marijuana purchases would hurt the cause.

“If Phil Murphy becomes governor, we can kiss opportunities like this goodbye because of his promised tax increases – $1.3 billion dollars in higher taxes, and that’s just what he’s admitting,” Diaz said. “We know that because of all of his promises, taxes are going to go up even higher. Business, income, sales taxes, taxes that directly impact Amazon in a negative way if they’re increased like Phil Murphy wants to see happen.”

Amazon wants to be near a university producing technical talent, with mass transit options and proximity to major highways and an international airport with daily nonstop flights to Seattle, San Francisco, New York and Washington.

Those sorts of things, New Jersey can provide. An affordable quality of life, including housing, might be challenging.

But Murphy said attracting Amazon’s second headquarters would strengthen New Jersey’s innovation and infrastructure economies – areas which he said the state has lost some of its historical advantages but can “dominate” again.

“We want to get this right. We want to get the innovation and infrastructure economies right,” said Murphy. “And we want to strike at the end of the day deals that make sense for everybody, all sides of the bargain, most importantly the middle class in this great state.”

Murphy talked about the prospects for Amazon’s headquarters for 8 minutes Monday on a conference call but took no follow-up questions from reporters.

Amazon is encouraging one proposal per metropolitan area – so not only would Jersey City, Newark and New Brunswick need to work with the state on a plan, which could include multiple potential sites, but the metropolitan area also includes parts of New York. Similarly, any South Jersey prospects share a metropolitan area with parts of Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia.

Amazon says its second headquarters will add as many as 50,000 full-time employees over 10 to 15 years, with average salaries exceeding $100,000. It would be a more than $5 billion project.

The company is focusing on metropolitan areas with more than 1 million residents, which covers nearly all of New Jersey. It seeks urban or suburban locations that can retain or attract strong technical talent, so the state’s public and private universities would be important in that regard.

It prefers to be within 30 miles of a population center and within 45 minutes of an international airport that has daily direct flights to Seattle, New York, San Francisco and Washington. It wants to be within 2 miles of major highways and arterial roads, and it wants direct on-site access to rail and bus routes.

Eventually, it wants up to 8 million square feet of building space on a roughly 100-acre campus, in addition to the minimum of 500,000 square feet from existing buildings it wants to start.

It seeks a “stable and business-friendly environment.” And it makes no secret about seeking an incentive package as part of selecting a location.


New Jersey: Decoded cuts through the cruft and gets to what matters in New Jersey news and politics. Follow on Facebook and Twitter.


Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5 and the editor of New Jersey: Decoded. Follow @NJDecoded on Twitter and Facebook. Contact him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com

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