Panasonic may move forward with plans to move to Newark after the State Economic Development Authority unanimously voted to approve a $ 102.4 million tax credit the company could use if it moves from its current North American headquarters to Secaucus.
Today’s vote in Trenton came after the company’s current owner, Hartz Mountain Industries, challenged the Authority’s earlier approval in January on procedural grounds.
The question is whether Panasonic qualifies for the state’s Urban Transportation Hub program, which offers businesses a tax credit for locating in one of the state’s nine eligible cities, including Newark. . To qualify for full credit, Panasonic must create at least 200 new jobs at the site within 10 years. The electronics giant maintains that at least 800 jobs are “at risk” if it leaves the state, and the EDA has concluded the jobs are considered new jobs, President Alfred Koeppe said during the meeting of the authority, before the vote.
The EDA calculated that Panasonic’s net profit to the state would be $ 222.8 million over 11.25 years, a figure that comes from direct taxes, one-time construction costs and revenue generated by the company. within the allotted time, according to an authority note.
Panasonic’s current lease ends in 2013 and officials said they are also considering new premises for their headquarters in New York City, the Atlantic, Chicago and California, and have not ruled out staying at Secaucus.
âWe have evaluated a number of location options both in-state and out-of-state, and no decision has yet been made,â Panasonic spokesman Jim Reilly said after the vote, declining to comment on the company’s next steps.
Hartz Mountain will challenge the vote in court, senior vice president Allen Magrini said after the meeting. The company maintains that the jobs are not at risk because they already exist in the state, and Panasonic is “taking a leap” with its argument, he said.
As a result, what the situation has done is stack Secaucus and Newark in a bid for jobs and other incentives that come with having a large corporation headquartered in a municipality.
âThis program was put in place to create jobs, not for New Jersey communities to compete for jobs,â said Deborah Howlett, president of the New Jersey Policy Perspective, a think tank. “It’s supposed to be New Jersey versus New York, not Newark versus Secaucus.”
Ultimately, what is most important, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno said during the meeting’s public comment period, is to approve incentives like these to keep jobs in the state. and attract new businesses.
âThere is nothing more important we can do to turn around the New Jersey economy than to keep businesses here,â she said. “Today is the loudest thing you can do.”
She added that the administration would help find a new tenant at Hartz Mountain in Secaucus if Panasonic moved.
And if Panasonic comes to Newark, the company would lease more than half of a new 410,000 square foot building that would rise to 2 Riverfront Center, a land ready for development at the intersection of McCarter Highway and Raymond Boulevard.
Sarah Portlock: (973) 392-5994 or [email protected]