Car manufacturer Subaru broke ground on new 250,000-square-foot. headquarters in Camden Wednesday.
The move will centralize about 600 South Jersey employees in the new facility, located on the site of the former Sears building, which was demolished in 2013.
“We believe in the revitalization effort that’s going on it Camden, and we really do want to be a part of it,” said Thomas Doll, president and CEO of Subaru of America, at a press conference that included a brass quintet playing Christmas carols and the Camden High School drum line.
The new campus, just across the street from the Campbell Soup Company’s main office, will house Subaru’s corporate headquarters and national training center.
According to the company, the move will also create 100 jobs, which proponents say will contribute to the revitalization of the long-distressed city.
“Camden is rising. Camden is rising,” said Mayor Dana Redd. “It is Camden’s time.”
When Subaru first planned to move its headquarters, Camden was not necessarily its first choice. The automaker also considered moving to other locations, including the Philadelphia Navy Yard.
It finally settled on Camden after being awarded nearly $118 million in tax credits over 10 years by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, which awards financial incentives to companies that create or retain jobs in the state.
“The problem with creating policy based on these kind of corporate threats is we never know when they’re actually legitimate or when they are merely a function of corporations doing the best they can to pay as little tax as they can and improve their shareholders’ bottom line,” said Jon Whiten, deputy director of New Jersey Policy Perspective, a left-leaning think tank.
Whiten and others have also argued that Subaru’s five-mile move from its current headquarters in Cherry Hill does not justify the millions of dollars lost in tax revenue.
“Shifting jobs from one part of the region to another is not going to create a strong economy in the future,” said Whiten.
Construction will start within the next month, and the new facility is slated to open by the end of 2017.