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Why Camden, New Jersey, is the perfect place for EMR USA’s new Headquarters

3 May 2019

Joe Balzano, CEO of EMR USA, describes how building the headquarters of EMR’s US subsidiary in Camden, New Jersey, is contributing to its renaissance and providing much needed employment opportunities for its local communities.

 

For nearly a century, the Bantivoglio family ran Camden Iron and Metal, a recycling operation that was a South Jersey mainstay. Almost two decades ago, the business was acquired by EMR, a global leader in metal recycling, which has approximately 170 facilities around the world. Our North American subsidiary, EMR USA employs approximately 2,000 people across 20 states. 

Personally, my family’s roots are in Camden. My grandfather migrated from Italy at the turn of the 20th Century and raised a family on Mechanic Street.  Moreover, my father worked as Executive Director of South Jersey Port Corporation for 61 years and it’s where I began working when I was 12, later attending College at Camden’s Rutgers University.

EMR USA could have located its corporate headquarters anywhere in the United States (we have major facilities and employ hundreds of people in cities like Dallas, New Orleans and Minneapolis), but my love for Camden and deep ties to the community made locating our American headquarters in Camden my top priority. 

We were able to accomplish that goal thanks, in no small part, to New Jersey’s Economic Opportunity Act. Often lost in the political discussion of the program’s merits are the very real and tangible benefits of the job-based tax credits it provides to revitalize our State’s most distressed communities, employ our most vulnerable citizens and expand economic opportunity for the entire region.

Camden, a once-iconic city, has become the most distressed municipality in the state, in part because its formerly diverse manufacturing base, ranging from shipbuilding to RCA, largely evaporated as the 20th century progressed. While other cities like neighboring Philadelphia experienced economic rejuvenation, Camden lost a third of its population and nearly 90% of its jobs. By the dawn of the 21st century, it had become one of the poorest cities in America, located in one of the wealthiest states in the nation.

But those of us who have long histories in Camden have always been committed to its rebirth. We are bringing manufacturing back to the city thanks to the fruitful partnership with the state’s Economic Development Agency.  It was a crucial factor in the decision to build our new corporate headquarters in Camden instead of Dallas or New Orleans. We are now in the process of carefully restoring the historic eight-story Victor Records building!

More importantly, the incentives have allowed us to open a new manufacturing plant in Camden and expand operations. This includes a cutting-edge recovery, reuse and recycling campus, which will house a vehicle dismantling facility to support our auto parts subsidiary business, and a state-of-the-art barge terminal, located on a formerly abandoned and contaminated brownfield site that we have remediated.

This development will result in over 300 new jobs and has allowed us to offer an aggressive education program for our workers that includes budgeting skills and planning for retirement.

None of these economic incentives have come without deliverables on our end: we have not, and will not, receive one penny until we meet the very strict criteria demanded by the state, which includes the creation of a specific number of jobs and over $100M of private dollars in capital investment. Crucially, the credits are paid over the course of a decade, and are subject to strict and independent verification. All told, the state has estimated that these incentives will have a net benefit of millions of dollars for New Jersey over the next several decades, while ensuring that the jobs created will last at least fifteen years.

EMR puts a great deal of importance on supporting the communities close to its sites and we at EMR USA believe in Camden’s future, and I am proud that the company has made the affirmative decision to invest over a quarter-billion dollars locally, with the overriding goal to employ Camden residents and contribute to the city’s economy. We will also make our new corporate headquarters available for community-based meetings and events.

The Economic Opportunity Act has played a critical role in ensuring that EMR USA, and other similarly situated employers, remain committed to Camden’s readily apparent renaissance. We are looking forward to seeing what the future holds.

Joe Balzano, CEO of EMR USA

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