The ribbon cutting at global information communications and telecom company Huawei Technologies Co.’s N.J. headquarters in Bridgewater last week was a demonstration of the way N.J. is fighting job flight one company at a time, one job at a time.
The event occurred just before pharmaceutical powerhouse Merck & Co said it would eliminate 12,000 additional jobs worldwide, with 40 percent of those in the U.S. Since Whitehouse Station, N.J., is the location of Merck’s worldwide headquarters, and Merck employs 12,000 in N.J., there was little joy in the state last week.
However, Huawei’s commitment to N.J. has brought a glimmer of hope to a state that is seeing big job losses. The 55 additional employees Huawei has pledged to employ in N.J. over the next two years may not stem the tide of job losses, but it shows that tech is viable on a small scale here.
Huawei said it worked with a team from the New Jersey Business Action Center and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) to make the move possible. In January 2011, the EDA gave the company a Business Employment Incentive Program grant of $1.3 million as part of the state’s incentives for creating new jobs in N.J.
Huawei, which is headquartered in Shenzhen, China, with U.S. headquarters in Plano, Texas, founded its N.J. office in 2008 with just four employees and today has 110. The company had been operating out of facilities in Bridgewater and Hazlet and outgrew both spaces. With the move to the new office, which occupies an entire floor of a building that also houses Pfizer Inc.’s and Oracle Corp.’s operations, Huawei promises that of the 55 additional people it will employ, at least 70 percent will be local.
The N.J. facility is the company’s North American wireless R & D headquarters, as well as serving as a place to develop radio frequency technologies, mobile broadband solutions, wireless system simulation and network capacity forecasting and wireless and wireline core and video technologies. In addition, N.J. is Huawei’s sales and operations center for the eastern U.S. region and houses its device sales office for the Northeast.
The company says it makes significant contributions to N.J.’s economy, including purchasing components and services from N.J.-based companies. Huawei “is on track” to spend approximately $15 million in 2011 on procurement, salaries and benefits, a spokesman added. The company says there is a pool of talented individuals in the state with backgrounds in telecom and wireless and that the universities in N.J. are turning out talented people all the time.
“We’ve built relationships with universities like Rutgers and Princeton and elsewhere in order to help nurture that innovative workforce and then to be able to capitalize on those new graduates,” the spokesman said. In some cases the company is endowing research and in others it is working with relevant research departments. Over the next three years, Huawei’s N.J. office anticipates increasing R & D investments to over $20 million.
Huawei is very excited about N.J. as a base for some of its operations, the spokesman continued, calling it “the Innovation State” with the legacy of Thomas Edison and Bell Labs. Huawei plans “to take advantage of everything N.J. has to offer in terms of telecommunications innovation,” the spokesman said. “It’s a great place for us to grow.”
At the ribbon cutting event, N.J. Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno noted that, “In October of last year, I reached out to Huawei to let them know we wanted them to grow with us in New Jersey,” and that the company and the state EDA worked together to make this happen. “Businesses go where they are welcome,” she said.