Opinion contributed by Eric I. Abraham, Attorney Red Bank
Fort Monmouth – long a technology hub at the forefront of innovation – has everything Amazon needs for its headquarters, and much more than New York City could ever have offered. Unlike New York City, government at all levels supports the continued development of Fort Monmouth as a hub for high-tech employers. The Murphy Administration has thrown its full weight behind the effort already, providing critical seed money for the creation of a 50-acre campus designed to meet the needs of high tech companies. But the support is not limited to government. The effort to create a technology hub at Fort Monmouth is a unique and comprehensive public/ private partnership to restore Fort Monmouth to its former place as a leading location for innovation. This grant is being co-administered by the New Jersey Institute of Technology, the New Jersey Innovation Institute and the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority. By drawing on the strengths of public and private resources, rather than fighting them, Amazon would be poised to succeed.
Fort Monmouth is also the perfect location for Amazon. It is accessible by both major highways, two major airports (Newark Liberty International Airport and Philadelphia International Airport), one local airport, and the North Jersey Coast line of New Jersey Transit, a train line with direct service to Newark and New York City. The location is also accessible by water. In addition to its proximity to New York City and Philadelphia, Fort Monmouth is near the vibrant “Jersey Shore” towns of Red Bank, Long Branch and Asbury Park. These premiere regional destinations have the cultural opportunities that Amazon’s employees will be looking for, including the Count Basie Theater, the Two River Theater, and the legendary Stone Pony.
By locating in Fort Monmouth, Amazon will have a local source of qualified workers. Monmouth County was the location for world-famous research facilities such as Bell Laboratories, and, when it was an active fort, it was the headquarters for the U.S. Army Signal Corps Laboratories, the Signal Corps Center, the U.S. Army Electronics Command, and the Communications-Electronics Command. These institutions have left a lasting legacy of world-class engineers in Monmouth County. Other high tech companies are already congregating in Fort Monmouth. For example, TetherView, a leading provider of cloud-based cybersecurity solutions, is based at Fort Monmouth.
The educational environment is also perfect for Amazon. High Tech High School, located near the Fort, was U.S. News and World Report’s #1-rated STEM school for three years in a row and niche.com’s #1 public high school in the nation for 2015. At the community college level, Brookdale Community College, located less than four miles from the Fort in Lincroft, offers a host of collegiate and non-degree courses/non-credit courses specially tailored to meet the training needs of local businesses. Monmouth University, three miles south of the Fort, is one of the nation’s best colleges according to U.S. News, Money Magazine and the Princeton Review. Rutgers University, the flagship of New Jersey’s public education system and a leading research university, is just a half-hour north of the Fort. And of course, Princeton University, a world-leading institution of higher learning, and the New Jersey Institute of Technology, are just a short ride away.
Fort Monmouth also has plentiful housing opportunities for Amazon’s employees. The reuse and redevelopment plan for the Fort includes East Gate, a neighborhood of 68 restored officers’ homes, historic red-brick structures located on what was once known as officers’ row. In addition, there are new residential homes under construction that consist of townhomes, duplexes and single family homes. This creates opportunities for all levels of Amazon workers to live and work within Fort Monmouth.
For all of these reasons, which include friendly government, convenient access, an educated workforce, strong educational and cultural institutions, and ample housing, Fort Monmouth is the perfect location for Amazon’s new headquarters.
This article was first published in the Feb. 28-March. 6, 2019 print edition of The Two River Times.
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