Those who can remember Newark both in its industrial heyday and its years of decline have to admit one thing: The high-profile tenure of former Mayor Cory Booker put the city back on the map. Where it goes from here will be decided in May, when it will pick between Shavar Jeffries and Ras Baraka. NJBIZ got a chance recently to sit down with both…
Newark mayoral candidate
Shavar Jeffries, 39, is a former assistant state attorney general. He’s currently an associate professor at Seton Hall Law School.
Q: What is the current state of business and economic development in Newark?
On the positive side under Mayor Booker, we saw some important investments in the downtown over the last several years, from the new Prudential towers to Panasonic coming downtown. NJPAC obviously has a new development. We’re going to see some development in the Four Corners. We’ve seen some new commercial businesses come in, from Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, Loft 47 and some others near the arena. So that’s all very positive, (but) at the same, though, in our neighborhoods, we haven’t seen much in the way of development at all. And I believe much of that development is also forestalled by the levels of crime in our neighborhoods.
We have a nice foundation. We have amazing assets in the city of Newark. We’re one of the most strategically important cities in our region and on the eastern seaboard.
Q: What is its future?
I want us to have a much more livable city, a much more livable downtown. We need many thousands more residents living downtown. We need to have a 24-hour downtown. Right now we have a relatively thriving commercial district, but we still have a lot work to do there.
But in addition to a very livable downtown, we want this economic development to happen in a way that creates job opportunities for Newarkers … We want development that also begins to root itself and anchors in our neighborhoods.
Q: What’s the No. 1 thing you’ll do to bring new businesses to Newark?
Can I give you three? When I think about our economic development, I kind of divide it into three buckets: One is the quality of the business environment. Two is leveraging the assets, and then three is workforce development.