By Jim Roberts
The anger and finger-pointing hasn’t let up in New York City over Amazon’s decision to abandon plans to local a new headquarters there, but Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey sees a clear next step: bring HQ2 to Newark.
Booker, who was once Mayor of Newark and is now running for president, said that ever since Amazon announced its retreat from New York, officials in New Jersey’s largest city have reached out to the retail and technology colossus.
“We want HQ2,” Booker declared emphatically in an interview with Cheddar’s J.D. Durkin. “We’ve sent that message out already. And everybody from the Governor to the Mayor to local leaders have been reaching out to Amazon.”
Newark was among the 20 finalists in the intense competition to be home to Amazon’s second headquarters and up to 50,000 jobs, but wound up losing to Crystal City in Virginia and Long Island City in Queens, New York.
New York’s success in luring the Seattle company immediately came under fire by a handful of local politicians in Queens who worried about the impact the company would place on the infrastructure of western Queens and raised concerns about Amazon’s labor practices. On Thursday, the company shocked New York by saying it was backing out.
In Senator Booker’s mind, Newark can overcome any of the concerns that undermined New York’s bid. “In Newark, we have local grassroots efforts to try to bring Amazon there, he said. “We are a city that’s built for a significantly larger population, has indigenous infrastructure, has incredible assets, has the best transportation infrastructure in the Northeast, incredible colleges and universities."
Booker spoke with Cheddar during a campaign stop in Rochester, N.H. He suggested that Newark leaders were more unified in wanting Amazon…and the jobs it could bring…than officials in New York. “Our local community leaders have decided that we would like to see Amazon come.”
He also suggested that Amazon would be compatible with Newark and that the city could avoid the divisions that erupted in New York over organized labor, infrastructure and gentrification. “We are growing and booming as a city,” Booker said. “But we are making sure that we have a pathway for all of Newarkers to prevent the ills that are often evident in gentrification and make sure that things work on our terms.”