Tech leader to other CEOs: Move your corporations to Newark

By Jessica Mazzola | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
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on April 21, 2015

Don Katz, CEO of Audible at his offices in Newark. Wednesday November, 20, 2013

WEST LONG BRANCH — Tech companies that move their businesses to Newark could see a double benefit - a financial one to the corporation, and a social one to the city, Audible Founder and CEO Donald Katz reportedly told a crowd of about 700 people at a TEDx Navesink event last week.

According to a New Jersey Tech Weekly report, Katz shared the story of his company's move from Wayne to Newark in 2007, and reasons why he would recommend other companies do the same.Katz said the city is on the brink of a renaissance, which could be helped by technology companies moving inside its city limits, the report said.

"We need to invest to make this happen...There really is a way to have capital become missionary rather than mercenary," Katz said in the report. He spoke about "social impact investing," which he said has both a financial upside and a measurable social upside, according to the report.

When Katz moved his corporation to Newark in 2007 he had 120 employees. Now, with Audible being the largest audio book producer in the country and a part of Amazon.com, the company has added an additional 600 jobs, the report said.

At the talk, Katz also reportedly announced that he is starting a venture fund and accelerator in Newark.

Katz is not the first to identify the Brick City as a place on the verge of major change. Members of the Baraka administration earlier this year said they felt the types of revitalizations that have hit Jersey City and Brooklyn, N.Y. were on their way to Newark.

Mayor Ras Baraka has said that he believes the city can experience a renaissance if it can leverage the resources it already has, and create new arts and culture developments.

"Arts bring cities back to life," the mayor said at an event in February. "The epicenter of arts and entertainment in New Jersey is here (in Newark)."

But others have said that Newark has some significant hurdles to climb before it grows. The city's crime rate is one of the highest in the state, and unemployment rates in Newark outpace most others in New Jersey.

For Katz, those challenges are ones he said an infusion into the business sector could help overcome.

"Companies can have hearts and souls. They can produce meaningful work for people and create meaningful legacies," he said in the report.

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