Philadelphia News & Search
Two very different New Jersey businesses — an online mortgage broker and an urban farming operation — are in line for sizable tax incentives from the state’s Economic Development Authority this week to locate operations in Camden.
E Mortgage Management LLC of Cherry Hill is awaiting word on a Grow New Jersey Assistance Program Grant that would award it $23.6 million in tax incentives over 10 years if it relocates and builds in Camden.
AeroFarms Camden LLC is seeking a similar grant of $11.14 million over 10 years to build an indoor hydroponic farm in Camden modeled on its operation in Newark, which its website calls the “world’s largest vertical farm.”
The EDA is scheduled to vote on both applications at its Thursday meeting in Trenton.
AeroFarms did not return a request for comment Tuesday, but its website says it grows “leafy greens and herbs” in a 70,000-square-foot urban building “without sunlight, soil or pesticides.” Nutrients are misted directly onto the plants’ roots, which are illuminated by LED lights.
The company has been operating in Newark since 2015, where it grows watercress, bok choy, kale, arugula, red-leaf lettuce, and other baby salad greens. Its process is, according to Aero Farms, “130 times more productive than field farming.” The Newark operation current employs about 60 workers.
E Mortgage’s president and chief operating officer, Kevin Crichton, said Tuesday that his company, a mortgage lender with operations in 35 states, had been in discussions with the EDA for more than a year. “We feel pretty hopeful,” said Crichton. “We’re told that if it makes it to the board for a vote it’s got a good chance.”
Crichton said his firm, which projects $1.5 billion in loans this year, became interested in the tax benefits of relocating to Camden when it saw the sizable incentives the EDA has awarded to other South Jersey firms, including Subaru, New Jersey American Water Company, and Holtec, to do so.
Created in 2002, E Mortgage leased 12,000 square feet of office space two years ago at 3 Executive Campus in Cherry Hill, and soon expanded to 17,000 square feet. Crichton said the company, which has about 100 employees, is looking to create about double the office space it has now.
But Camden’s waterfront, which Holtec, New Jersey American Water, the Philadelphia 76ers and Sun Bank now or will soon call home, has already become too expensive for E Mortgage, according to Crichton. He said the company is looking instead to build along Route 30, also known as Admiral Wilson Boulevard, near Campbell’s Soup and Subaru’s corporate offices.
“It’s a much better environment than it once was, and it’s really convenient,” said Crichton, who cited the PATCO trains, Jersey Transit, Light Rail, and Routes 30 and 676, which he said should make the new offices accessible for its current workforce.
He said the company chose not to relocate to the Philadelphia Navy Yard or to Florida because it wanted to stay in New Jersey.
The tax credits are contingent on the companies’ making capital investments, and on the retention and creation of a certain number of jobs. They are paid annually over a decade after the companies complete construction.
Philadelphia News & Search