By Briana Vannozzi
With 1,000 employees and more than 40 years at this campus, Mercedes-Benz has become somewhat synonymous with Montvale, New Jersey. News of a potential move has state and local lawmakers scrambling to find incentive packages tempting enough to make them stay.
“I remain cautiously optimistic that we’re at least still in the game,” said Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi.
Schepisi, along with her legislative counterparts in this Bergen County district, have been in talks with executives from the corporation.
“Let’s put it this way — everybody from the highest levels of the state are actively involved in trying to ensure we keep Mercedes here,” she said.
Details are under wraps, but Schepisi says the state is prepared to offer very attractive incentives, above and beyond those being put forward by Georgia, which reportedly offered the company $30 million in corporate tax credits.
“In the cost benefit analysis of Mercedes, there are some intangible things the state can’t compete with — like high cost of labor, high property taxes and those type of things. However we’re hoping some of the incentives could offset some of those considerations,” Schepisi said.
When asked if he is hopeful, Montvale Mayor Roger Fyfe said, “I’m very hopeful, yeah. Actually no one from Mercedes has told me they’re leaving.”
But Fyfe is not so optimistic about the immediate impact of a relocation by a company of this size. It’s the city’s second largest employer.
“The the little restaurants and stores around town have 800 employees, maybe more. You have to worry about where they used to eat, where they used to shop. That’s going to be a tough thing all at once,” Fyfe said.
“They’re a wonderful worldwide known company. I know people who work for Mercedes. It would be very sad to see them go,” said Park Ridge resident Nat Bargman.
Schepisi had a client donate billboard space, offering another reminder New Jersey wants the company to stay. She says lawmakers need to make issues like these their first priority.
“We’re essentially the highest tax state in the nation when you take in all the variables and it’s really starting to make people reevaluate their long-term plans and goals,” she said.
This isn’t the first time Bergen County has had to compete with tax incentives being offered to its corporations from states down south. Earlier this year, the car rental company Hertz relocated from Park Ridge to south Florida. And the bubble wrap maker Sealed Air announced it will soon move its headquarters from Elmwood Park to North Carolina. Schepisi says despite the holiday this week, she hopes to keep lines of communication open and an announcement on the decision should be made in the next couple of weeks.