Christie asks governor's candidates to help attract Amazon

By MICHAEL CATALINI Markets Associated Press

Republican Gov. Chris Christie wants the Democratic and GOP candidates vying to succeed him to help the state land Amazon's second home.

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Christie wrote to Democrat Phil Murphy and Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno on Friday and asked them to sign on to his efforts to get the Seattle-based company to locate in New Jersey, according to a letter obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday.

"As the major party candidates for Governor of this State in the November elections, I write this letter seeking your commitment to pursuing a unified and continuous approach to attracting Amazon's 'HQ2' project to New Jersey," Christie wrote.

The letter came just weeks after Amazon announced that it is planning to spend $5 billion to build another headquarters in North America to house as many as 50,000 employees.

Christie wrote that he plans on seeking new bipartisan legislation that would change the state's Grow NJ incentive program.

Specifically, he's proposing legislation to attract the company, including by removing geographic restrictions on incentive programs aimed at attracting business in the state. He also wrote that the measure would allow tax credits to be carried forward for up to 50 years, among other changes.

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Christie estimated the economic benefit to New Jersey would be $9 billion. He said he wants a response by Friday and initial applications are due to Amazon by Oct. 19.

He pointed out that Amazon's hunt for a second headquarters coincides with a governor's race and said it will be important for the company to know the next governor is committed.

Guadagno responded with a hand-delivered letter on Tuesday, according to her campaign. She wrote that she "enthusiastically" supports the efforts "being undertaken by state, local and private sector leaders" to attract Amazon to New Jersey. Her letter doesn't say specifically if she supports Christie's newly proposed legislation.

A message left with Murphy's campaign wasn't immediately returned Tuesday.

Murphy, a wealthy former Goldman Sachs executive, and Guadagno have both said New Jersey should compete for the Amazon headquarters.

New Jersey already has seven Amazon fulfillment centers with plans for more. Audible, an Amazon-affiliated audio book company, has offices in Newark and Jersey City.

Murphy is leading Guadagno in polls ahead of the Nov. 7 election.