Move over, NYC — Newark’s the cheaper option for Amazon HQ2, study finds

The competition to land Amazon’s second headquarters is stiff, but at least one research group is giving Newark an edge: It has all the benefits of New York City — without all the costs.  

Newark is one of 20 finalist North American cities still in the running for Amazon’s HQ2, which is expected to bring 50,000 jobs to whichever spot it picks. 

The Newark Community Foundation commissioned a study to look at how Newark stacks up to other top contenders in the eastern U.S. The Anderson Economic Group, an independent Chicago-based research group focused on economics and public policy, came back with good news for city leaders. 

“Among those sites with access to by far the largest pool of talented workers for HQ2, we have identified the lowest-cost option: Newark,” the report said. 

Humanity has been lost in the Amazon

In October, Anderson ranked all the metro areas that submitted proposals to Amazon. Their latest study compared Newark to the five high-ranking eastern cities: New York, Chicago, Boston, Atlanta and Washington, D.C. It analyzed the cost of doing business in each metro area and the available pool of potential workers.

Megacorporations now rule us. HQ2 only makes the point unmistakably. Their money owns cities, states and the federal government. Labor lies at their feet. The smartest talent around serves them — conscienceless scientists, slick lawyers, finagling accountants, anything they need. With all the skill and brainpower at their command, however, they are mindless and nihilistic, serving only the rodent-like goal of endless accumulation, of purposeless power and profit. They’ve been dining out, ideologically, on the economist Joseph Schumpeter’s description of the capitalist process as one of creative destruction, with the latter justified by the former.  

With the goal of bringing 50,000 jobs to the winning city, Amazon needs to locate in an area with a deep pool of qualified employees. 

The New York Metro area, which includes Newark, had the most people working in jobs relevant to potential employment needs at Amazon HQ2 when compared to other metro areas, the study found. 

There are about 1.3 million workers in relevant fields in the New York metro area — that’s nearly twice the number in the Washington D.C. metro area, which has about 734,000 people working in relevant jobs. 

Amazon has moved into product lines now and just about everything else: it is too big to stop, even if the government were still able to look the word “monopoly” up in the dictionary. It started, though, producing nothing. It was just a big warehouse that delivered other people’s stuff. For this, it was rewarded with the power to snuff out entire industries. After a career of avoiding taxes, it now demands nonpayment of them as a right. It claims to bring jobs but delights in killing them, as in its new cashierless supermarkets, Amazon Go.

Those jobs includes areas such as management, business, finance, math, public relations and sales. 

Newark also has the advantage to draw from a slew of new graduates feeding into the workforce, according to Anderson. 

Universities in the New York metro area had the most people studying in relevant fields. In 2016, New York universities awarded 75,000 degrees and certificates in areas like computer and information services, business, marketing, law, electrical engineering, public relations, advertising and publishing.

I hate Amazon. With its former compeer Apple, it destroyed the bookstore, the cultural anchor of great cities and one of the great pleasures of my life. It is wiping out retail chains, the jobs that go with them, and the experience of shopping, dining and socializing that brought people together. It has left in its wake a vast isolation in which we can all remain in the sealed shells of our homes and apartments, connected to the world only by the computer keystroke. Your shipment is at the door.

The Chicago area came in second with about 40,800 degrees in relevant study areas. 

Should Amazon open its doors in Newark, it would cost $74 million less than if the company were to move to Manhattan. Moving to Newark is also $17 million cheaper than moving to Brooklyn, the study found. 

When comparing proposed sites in the New York Metro area, “We found that Newark was the most affordable option by a considerable amount, due in large part to lower facility costs and in small part to lower tax costs,” the researchers said. 

Compared to the other cities in the study, Newark has the third-lowest facility and operating costs, after the Atlanta and Chicago metro areas. However, the calcuations do not factor in potential state and city tax breaks.  

The Tulsa Regional Chamber says it can’t release the city’s Amazon HQ2 proposal.

That’s where we are nearly a month after Chamber CEO and President Mike Neal stood next to Mayor G.T. Bynum at a City Hall press conference and said the chamber couldn’t release the city’s HQ2 proposal because it had signed a nondisclosure agreement with Amazon.

Or so he initially thought. Chamber officials, including Neal, later clarified the organization’s position, saying the chamber has a nondisclosure agreement with the state Department of Commerce, which in turn has a separate nondisclosure agreement with Amazon.

Chris Wylie, the chamber’s director of accounts, confirmed again this week that the only nondisclosure agreement the chamber has related to the Amazon deal is with the Department of Commerce.

It is common for the chamber to work with the Department of Commerce to come up with financial incentive packages, and the information that goes into creating those deals is typically considered confidential under the state’s Open Records Act.

Those financial incentives, Neal and other chamber officials argue, need to be kept private so that other cities and states don’t have Tulsa’s playbook the next time a big jobs-generator comes up for bid.

It’s an argument that one could say has merits, but it’s not the one being written about here.

Amazon confirmed this week that the company never prohibited HQ2 applicants from making their bids public.

According to the online giant, the only time nondisclosure agreements were signed was to protect Amazon’s proprietary information.

This isn’t news. A number of media outlets have reported the same thing. And several cities and states, including Boston, Colorado and a coalition of cities in the San Francisco Bay Area, have chosen to release all or parts of their applications.

So the question is this: Given that the chamber does not have a nondisclosure agreement with Amazon, does its nondisclosure agreement with the state Department of Commerce cover the Chamber’s entire Amazon HQ2 proposal or only the financial incentives offered to the company?

If it covers the entire agreement, that would seem to go against Amazon’s stated policy. If it covers just the financial incentives offered by Tulsa and the state of Oklahoma, why not release the entire proposal, minus the financial information considered confidential under Title 51, Section 24A.10 of the state’s Open Records Act?

Justin McLaughlin, chief operating officer of the Tulsa Regional Chamber, provided this explanation for why the chamber won’t be releasing the city’s bid:

“The competition for economic development projects between cities is extremely fierce, and confidentiality helps us maintain a competitive advantage,” he said. “As chamber President and CEO Mike Neal mentioned at the January 18 press conference, football teams don’t show each other their playbook before a game.

“Similarly, we anticipate submitting proposals for future economic development projects in which elements of our Amazon HQ2 playbook will be relevant.”

Amazon has made other forays into delivery. In August 2016, the company unveiled its first branded cargo plane, one of 40 jetliners that were expected to make up its own air transportation network.

Kevin Canfield has covered local government in Tulsa for nearly two decades. He also has reported on downtown development, zoning and community planning.

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WHAT? The midtown mafia is lying and deceitful? No way. Where’s the transparency in Tulsa?

They don’t want us to know just how high they wanted to jack up our taxes to cover this pipe dream.

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