N.J. Awards Third-Largest Subsidy to Reactor-Maker Holtec

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s administration awarded $260 million in tax subsidies to Holtec International to build a manufacturing facility for nuclear-reactor components in Camden.

The 10-year deal is projected to create 235 jobs and retain 160 in New Jersey. Tax breaks were a main reason the Jupiter, Florida-based company chose Camden, one of the poorest and most crime-ridden U.S. cities, over other lower-cost locations including South Carolina, according to an application approved today by the Economic Development Authority.

The award is New Jersey’s third-largest, behind those for the Revel casino in Atlantic City and the American Dream mall in northern New Jersey, said Timothy Lizura, president of the agency. It comes a month after the National Basketball Association’s 76ers won $82 million in tax breaks from Christie’s administration to move practice space and offices to Camden from Philadelphia.

“It sends a strong message that Camden is ready and primed for development,” Mayor Dana Redd said after the agency’s board meeting in Trenton. “We’re working really hard to try and stand Camden up.”

Tax Breaks

Christie, 51, a second-term Republican, has awarded more than $4 billion in business tax breaks since becoming governor in 2010. New Jersey Policy Perspective, a Trenton group that has been critical of the incentives, said in a report last month that the program has been a “largely unsuccessful” effort to boost New Jersey’s economy.

Revel, promised $261 million in tax incentives to hasten the completion of Atlantic City’s newest casino-hotel, has filed for bankruptcy twice since opening in 2012 and is now seeking a buyer at auction. American Dream, a project that was stalled for years amid holdups over financing, property control and lawsuits, won $390 million from Christie’s administration.

New Jersey’s unemployment rate was 6.8 percent in May, above the national level of 6.3 percent. Since February 2010, the state has recovered 129,200 jobs, or about half of those lost during the recession, lagging behind neighboring states.

Holtec, identified in its application as the largest provider of storage and transport systems for spent nuclear fuel in North America, has its engineering and technology headquarters in Marlton, about 15 miles (24 kilometers) from Camden. It plans to build components for a small modular nuclear reactor at the new site. It won’t generate, transport or store nuclear fuel at the 600,000-square-foot facility.

The project will have a net benefit to the state of $155,520 over 35 years, according to the application.

Kris Singh, chief executive officer of Holtec, sits on the board of trustees of Cooper University Health Care, Camden’s largest hospital. The chairman of that board is George Norcross, a Democratic party leader in southern New Jersey who has worked with Christie on higher-education initiatives.

Camden, a city of 77,000 across the Delaware River from the Philadelphia skyline, once housed industry titans including RCA Victor, the largest producer of phonographs and records. As industry faded, the city fell into crime, poverty and corruption. It was ranked the most violent U.S. city in a 2012 ranking from CQ Press.

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