Newark: A Model for Equity and Collaboration

 

Forbes OZ Summit Series: Aisha Glover, President and CEO, Newark Alliance

On May 21, we interviewed key opportunity zone players at the inaugural Forbes OZ Summit in Newark, New Jersey.

In October 2018, Aisha Glover became the President and CEO of Newark Alliance, a nonprofit founded by corporate leaders to promote economic revitalization in Newark. She previously spearheaded the city’s bid for Amazon’s second headquarters (HQ2) and pushed forward an innovative economic development agenda in her role as President and CEO for the Newark Economic Development Corporation (NEDC). She also has a strong background in social and environmental justice, which has helped her understand the importance of community-oriented economic development. 

Glover says that if done right, the potential for opportunity zones in Newark is huge, especially if the legislation is combined with other equitable development strategies. “The New York City metropolitan area has the largest and most diverse work pool in the country,” she explains, “and there’s $4.7 billion in development already underway.” These features will help attract some of the capital unleashed by Opportunity Zone tax incentives. To maximize the social impact of the capital, Newark has been very intentional about designating opportunity zone locations, selecting “commercial and retail corridors that have potential but also the vacancy to allow for growth,” Glover adds.

Success can be defined through the impact that OZs will have on the city. “We should see a decrease in the unemployment rate, an increase in the number of investments with a clear and measurable impact, businesses thriving on the corridors, a long-term reduction in poverty, and short-term benefits around equitable development – not just downtown but also in neighborhoods,” she says.  

During Amazon’s HQ2 bid, Glover worked closely with major corporations and anchor institutions in Newark. This intimate collaboration between public and private agencies helped demonstrate the deep commitment that everyone has to build a stronger and more equitable city. Newark is comprised of many assets including technology, talent, infrastructure, and diversity, but the Amazon bid gave outside investors, entities, and companies a clearer view of these assets and the confidence to invest in them. Glover believes Newark is a model for equity across the country and explains the city is unique in its collaborative spirit: “Everyone is all in and asking how to do this right.”