A company that manufacturers ion-exchange resins to treat water broke ground for its new headquarters in a vacant East Camden lot on Monday.
ResinTech Inc., which considered leaving New Jersey to go South, was awarded almost $139 million in controversial tax incentives in 2016 by the state’s Economic Development Authority.
The company was outgrowing its West Berlin space, officials said.
“We’re sandwiched in between two children’s amusement parks now, which many years ago weren’t there,” said ResinTech CEO Jeffrey Gottlieb.
Though building a manufacturing plant in New Jersey isn’t ideal because of high construction costs, Gottlieb said incentives from the Grow New Jersey program offset costs of moving elsewhere and justified staying.
The company needs to keep 265 jobs in the city in order for the incentives to kick in, though Gottlieb plans on hiring to expand the workforce to 400 employees soon after the company is up and running in 2020.
The initial 265 jobs will be coming from the company’s other facilities in New Jersey, Maryland and Bristol, Pennsylvania. About a dozen employees will come from Maryland, 150 from West Berlin and 100 from Bristol.
A planned plant across the train tracks from the headquarters will employ 35 to 50 workers with different education and skill levels; Gottlieb said he hopes to fill those jobs with some Camden residents.
“My vision would be to rebuild all of this, every drop of this neighborhood,” said Gottlieb of the Federal Street Corridor. “If I could, I would love to see reinvestment here, I’d love to see retail here, I’d love to see a place to get a cup of coffee on the corner.”
Mayor Frank Moran said having hundreds of employees in the area would revitalize the corridor and bring customers to the eateries just three blocks north of the new headquarters.
Moran, who has pushed the idea of “inclusive prosperity” that extends revitalization outside of Camden’s waterfront, also said the company will contribute to the city through job training; rehabbing parks; and working with nonprofit groups to enhance the quality of housing in the area.
“They’re here for the long haul, they’re committed to doing and supporting community development, workforce housing,” he said, though he didn’t give any other specifics.
There have been concerns that other projects using state incentives haven’t yielded the jobs promised, but Moran said he’s not worried.
“I don’t know what the EDA projects have done for other towns, but it’s been a true blessing to the city of Camden where we’ve taken old, dilapidated areas and have converted them to hundreds of millions dollars worth of development and opportunity for the city,” he said. — (WHYY)