To Attract Amazon, New Jersey Needs Public Investments

Focusing on bigger and more dangerous tax breaks alone won’t work. Here's why.

Published on Sep 27, 2017 in Tax and Budget


New Jersey would be an excellent choice for Amazon’s new headquarters. After all, we have bustling cities like Jersey City, Newark, New Brunswick and now Camden – plus strong road, rail, port, technology and airport infrastructure; a highly educated labor force; excellent public schools and a great quality of life. These are the key factors that can attract Amazon to the Garden State – not further expanding New Jersey’s overly generous corporate subsidies, as Gov. Christie suggests.

So-called ‘incentives’ are a stated factor in Amazon’s decision-making, but they are just one of many. If state economic-development officials focus narrowly on tax breaks, they will merely be repeating – and making worse – the mistakes New Jersey’s political leaders have been making over and over since the Recession hit. For New Jersey’s economy to truly be competitive and strong, the state needs to get back to basics: investing in the assets that give us an edge.

Whether that’s ensuring NJ Transit is reliable and affordable, strengthening the state’s public colleges and universities, or fostering smart, dense growth in walkable downtowns with more affordable places to live, these are the policy solutions New Jersey must highlight in an attempt to woo Amazon. Merely blowing the lid off already out-of-control corporate tax break policies won’t work – and is dangerous to New Jersey’s future to boot.