The numbers are staggering: over 1,000 new jobs, over $ 125 million in renovations, over $ 300 million in rent.

But the 20-year lease contract Port Authority of New York and New Jersey agreed with Amazon Global Air Thursday is more than dollars and jobs. This is to help ensure that Newark Liberty International Airport – already a major national and international shipping center – is becoming a world-class freight company in a rapidly changing global market.

And it is about helping the airport to extend its role as an economic engine for the State.

That’s what Port Authority President Kevin O’Toole said.

“Newark Liberty is a vital engine of the regional economy,” he said. “This unique partnership has the potential to increase the airport’s workforce by nearly 5% and strengthen its role as a critical part of our recovery from the economic impacts of COVID-19. The coming months will see additional investment as we deliver on our promise to transform Newark Liberty into a world-class facility for our region. “

The clearance will help boost the Port Authority’s broader effort to modernize operations at all facilities to better compete in a dynamic and evolving air cargo industry. This transformation begins with a $ 125 million renovation of buildings # 339 and # 340, which combine for nearly 250,000 square feet of space while sitting on approximately 23 acres on the north side of the airport.

They were built in 1996 as multipurpose freight facilities. Today, they consist of office, warehouse and cargo storage space, which is sublet to various cargo and non-cargo tenants.

Port Authority executive director Rick Cotton said everything is changing now.

“The exciting Air Cargo Project the Board of Directors approved today marks the latest milestone in this agency’s commitment to shaping the future of air cargo by increasing Newark Liberty capacity and customizing delivery. world-class air cargo operations and services, ”he said.

The announcement is the latest effort in a scale-up redevelopment of the airport, of which the cargo business is an essential ingredient.

The changes could happen soon.

The final lease terms – the one in which Amazon pays the port an initial rental fee of $ 150 million, and then another $ 157 million over the next 20 years – are still subject to final approval. Port officials have said they hope to have an agreement signed by the fourth quarter, when renovations begin.

The project is expected to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2023. The impact, however, will be felt before then.

All architectural, engineering and construction activities relating to facility improvements, as well as contractors and sub-contractors involved in the operation of the new freight facility, would include bona fide participation goals. 20% for minority-owned enterprises and 10% for women commercial enterprises.

There are many reasons.

Local air freight remains a vital link in the global supply chain and a key driver of the region’s economic growth. Overall, air cargo supports 22,000 jobs, $ 4 billion in sales and $ 1.5 billion in global wages throughout the Newark area. And, as customers and suppliers continue to turn to online outlets for commerce and merchandise, Newark has emerged as the regional hub for small parcels.

Governor Phil Murphy was obviously delighted with the announcement.

“This investment in Newark Liberty International Airport will create 1,000 jobs and provide significant opportunities for minority and women owned businesses,” said Murphy. “Air freight is vital to the international supply chain, and with this new partnership, Newark will continue to be a global leader in logistics. This new e-commerce center will provide the necessary revenue for the port authority while creating new jobs in our state. “

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