Reports last week of Panasonic’s possible move from Secaucus, N.J. to Brooklyn, N.Y. in the Wall Street
Journal, among other media outlets, was a surprise, but not necessarily because the company might move.
After all Sony moved its U.S. CE operations from New Jersey to San Diego a few years ago and Toshiba just moved its CE division and unified it with its IT operation last year.
The surprise from this native New Yorker and Brooklynite is that a corporation is possibly moving back from the suburbs to the city where it first opened shop in the U.S. years ago.
Some historical background is needed I guess. Since the 1960s at least New York City lost plenty of U.S. headquarters of a variety of major corporations to New Jersey and Connecticut, not to mention upstate New York, Texas, Atlanta and California due to incentives such as lower taxes and - back in those years - a lower crime rate vs. the Big Apple.
The crime rate plunged since the early 1990s in New York and the city has gotten used to the incentive game, which has made it more attractive for major corporations to relocate to or stay here.
Of course Panasonic’s move to Brooklyn is not a done deal. Panasonic’s GM of public relations Jim Reilly told TWICE that it is “examining a number of location options for the headquarters of Panasonic Corp. of North America, including remaining in our current offices in Secaucus, N.J. We have not made any decisions yet and haven’t ruled anything out.” Reportedly Newark, N.J. is in the mix.
The company is looking at sites in downtown Brooklyn near the MetroTech Center and Atlantic Yards, where the New Jersey Nets basketball team is set to move in a couple of years.
Panasonic’s move to Brooklyn would mark the company’s return to the city. In 1959 Panasonic opened a small office on the north side of 42nd Street below Madison Ave. That continued until the PanAm building (now the Met Life Building) opened in the early 60s and Panasonic was one of the first tenants. Panasonic left for Secaucus in 1973
Reilly confirmed that Panasonic has about 800 Panasonic employees in Secaucus and “another few hundred contractors, who provide special skills that are needed for projects or special tasks. The number of contractors rises and falls month by month.”
So if Panasonic, which opened its first U.S. offices in Manhattan, decides to move to Brooklyn it wouldn’t be a stranger to the Big Apple.