Newark, N.J. — Newark Mayor Ras Baraka wants New York Mayor Bill de Blasio remove the Big Apple's name from the list of contenders vying to be the next home of Amazon headquarters, and instead throw weight behind Newark’s bid for the prize.
Amazon is expected to put out a short list of finalists. Wherever the technology giant decides to build its HQ2, it promises to bring an estimated 50,000 jobs and a $5 billion investment.
“I’m gonna like, persuade him. And tell him, you know, Newark is probably the best place Amazon could be,” said Baraka. “We have exactly what Amazon needs. We have the dense population of engineers. We have 50,000 college students. Our transportation infrastructure is bar-none up and down this corridor. We’re five minutes from the international airport. We just have everything Amazon is looking for. And we have the space. And it’s cheaper for them to build here.”
His argument hasn't swayed New York officials.
“Respectfully to our friends in Newark, no. We are working hard to create good jobs for New Yorkers," said a de Blasio spokesperson.
Newark is riding a tide of development right now and Baraka wants to build on that success with the winning Amazon bid.
There are luxury buildings opening in central Newark. A Whole Foods opened earlier this year. Tech companies such as Audible call the city home and new restaurants and bars continue to open on Halsey Street and near the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. Barcade, a bar with craft beer and vintage arcade games, just opened downtown this week.
Baraka also proudly points out that crime is decreasing. He says there were 3,000 fewer crime victims in the city this year over last. Baraka says the reasons behind the precipitous drop are varied.
“The development, the increase in jobs, improvement of the school system, Rutgers getting more Newark students in their University, the hiring of police officers, jobs for summer youth - all of that has an impact,” he said, adding that Newark is set to graduate it’s largest class of new police officers tomorrow.
Baraka also has high hopes for support from Trenton to continue Newark’s rise. Governor-elect Phil Murphy will be sworn in next month. He wants to see dollars for Newark schools and infrastructure investments from the state, including spending on Newark roads, bridges, Newark Penn Station and the expansion of the light rail.