Newark New Jersey is not a place that immediately comes to mind when considering innovation hubs. A world away from Silicon Valley, Newark is a city with roots in pre-revolutionary America and homes dating back 300 years. Yet the city stands poised to leverage innovation in infrastructure and development, literally from the ground up, in a way not being done in any other municipality.
First, Newark’s proximity to New York, along with visionary leadership from the city government, has created a unique advantage when it comes to digital infrastructure. Over the last 20 + years many data-driven companies have located their back-offices and other facilities in Newark and needed new bandwidth built to accommodate their activities. Additionally, Newark is the home to many utility companies, that are investing heavily in fiber. The fiber networks in Newark include ultra-fast internet and data-transmission and include an incredible amount of unused, or “dark fiber,” available for new enterprises.
Among the first to recognize the potential of Newark, founders of the Lotus Equity Group, a New York-based real estate development and investment firm invested in 2 Gateway Center in the city’s Business District ten years ago. The Class A office building was built to headquarter AT&T’s equipment business and subsequently became the home for a number of corporate back offices. The building has worked with the City of Newark to bring access to the fiber into the building, and that along with other initiatives, has created redundant connectivity which is very important to companies looking to move a lot of data.
Additionally, in July 2015 Prudential Financial, Audible, Inc. and Congressional and local leaders announced $50M early-stage technology venture fund and 25,000-square-foot accelerator with 10 gigabits per second Internet service to create and grow early-stage tech companies in Newark. As well, a new superfast Wi-Fi network, Firebolt, covers a two-mile stretch of downtown Newark. Built by the Military Park Partnership, and funded by Audible, Prudential Financial, Rutgers Newark, and NJIT, the Firebolt Wi-Fi system is another feather in the cap of Newark’s high tech systems
Thus Newark is being reborn as a technology hub led by tech-savvy developers such as Lotus, and forward thinking companies like Audible. In combination with a commitment to sustainable development, the multiplier effect of these types of enterprises will be wealth creating machines that will attract forward thinking, tech savvy businesses as well as a whole new population of millennials, who care about access to technology as well as sustainability. All this will greatly benefit the people of Newark, and the rest of the region as well.