NEWARK, N.J., July 20, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Senator Cory Booker, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, Acting Governor of New Jersey Kim Guadagno, former New Jersey Governor Thomas Kean and former Nebraska Governor and U.S. Senator Bob Kerrey will attend an event today where Audible founder and CEO Donald Katz, Prudential Financial Vice Chairman Mark Grier and other leaders will announce the formation of Newark Venture Partners.
Newark Venture Partners leaders will manage an early-stage investment fund that will provide capital as well as sophisticated company-building services and a collaborative state-of-the-art 25,000-square-foot accelerator workspace with lightning-fast Wi-Fi and ultra-high bandwidth access to the Internet for innovative tech start-ups in Newark. The accelerator's One Washington Park location, adjacent to Newark's Broad Street train station and just eighteen minutes by train from Manhattan, also houses the headquarters of Audible and its Newark-based employees as well as the Rutgers University Business School, which is providing rent-free access to the facility, now being readied for construction.
Audible's executives and advanced technologists will play a key role in providing mentoring to resident portfolio companies. "Audible moved to Newark in late 2007 to help accelerate the comeback of a great American city," said Katz, also the founder of Newark Venture Partners. "As the fastest-growing private employer in Newark, we have added hundreds of employees who are thriving in a city at a historic tipping point. Along with the Newark Venture Partners leadership team, we look forward to mentoring fellow entrepreneurs and their employees."
The accelerator will also feature an advanced fiber-optic infrastructure providing 10 gigabits to the floor where start-ups will work. "From Thomas Edison's work to the invention of the transistor, New Jersey has a proud history of technological innovation," said Senator Booker. "Now, Newark is poised to take the next big step forward. Giving start-ups here access to ultra-high bandwidth Internet will attract more entrepreneurship to our community and bring the opportunities of an increasingly interconnected global economy even closer to people. That means the creation of jobs and a stronger city and state."
Veteran angel investor Thomas Wisniewski will lead Newark Venture Partners' staff. Rutgers Business School faculty and graduate students will be able to provide support services to companies participating in the accelerator, along with Audible employees and a high-profile mentoring and support network that currently includes Kleiner Perkins partner Bing Gordon, Union Square Ventures partner Brad Burnham and noted early-stage investor Oren Zeev.
The first fund of its kind in the New York metropolitan area, Newark Venture Partners is part of a national "social impact investing" trend characterized by a "double bottom line" investment thesis that will include regularly published metrics on the fund's contribution to social and economic improvement such as job growth, taxable revenue growth, increased residential in-migration, foot traffic and the growth of vibrant street level amenities. "We can accelerate the turnaround of economically challenged American cities by connecting them to technology-driven innovation and economic growth," said Newark native, Newark Venture Partners advisor and Director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto, Dr. Richard Florida, the leading academic proponent of the "creative economy" that brings together engineers, artists and other knowledge workers to create positive urban change. "With this announcement," Dr. Florida continued, "Newark is poised to become a paradigm of social impact venture investment wealth creation and social transformation upside for years to come."
"Research has shown that for each new engineering job, five service economy entry-level jobs for citizens of the urban core are created too," said Newark Mayor Ras Baraka. "Newark is where Edison worked; where commercial radio, commercial plastic, air conditioning and the earliest fax machine were all invented. Over $2 billion dollars in new construction is underway in Newark. An iconic 1911 department store a few blocks from the Newark Venture Partners accelerator is under re-construction with plans for loft apartments, another high-bandwidth tech workspace, an arts center and 20 shops including Whole Foods as an anchor. This city is on a roll and Newark Venture Partners will play a key part in this continued transformation."
"This is an important and necessary initiative to help Newark reach its full potential as a first-class city," said Newark native and philanthropist Ray Chambers.
Also unveiled today is downtown Newark's new Firebolt Wi-Fi, an outdoor, lightning-fast free public Wi-Fi network. Funded by The Military Park Partnership, Audible and Prudential Financial, the Firebolt Wi-Fi system covers a two-linear-mile stretch of downtown Newark. In addition, the same cutting-edge solution is also available at several community recreation centers and housing authority locations in the city's neighborhoods. The John F. Kennedy Community Recreation Center in Newark's Central Ward and seven other community centers and Newark Housing Authority sites are the first public facilities to deploy this cutting-edge Wi-Fi solution.
"We are excited to partner with Audible and other impact investors in creating Newark Venture Partners," said Mark Grier, vice chairman of Prudential Financial. "Our hope is that these companies will grow to call Newark home, just as Prudential has since the company was founded here 140 years ago. Our additional support of Firebolt, the ultra-fast, public Wi-Fi network, promises to be a boon for the community of Newark by expanding Internet access, stimulating innovation and giving businesses a competitive edge. We are particularly pleased that our support extends the Wi-Fi beyond the downtown core to recreation centers around the city to further benefit Newark residents."
"Access to broadband services and an understanding of computers and the Internet is key to the future of equality of opportunity," said Dr. David Jefferson of the Metropolitan Baptist Church. "Social impact venture investing is clearly a way to do well and do substantial good too. Newark's 21st-century technology infrastructure must be attended by 21st-century skills for all of our citizens. This fund and these efforts will surely be lasting milestones for the comeback of Newark."
Newark's transportation advantages, its proximity to New York City, its many cultural amenities including The Prudential Center and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center – and the presence of more than 40,000 college students – will also contribute to the creation of a vibrant growth economy environment. "Rutgers Business School is excited to partner with Newark Venture Partners investors to realize this forward-thinking plan for attracting new companies to Newark," said Nancy Cantor, Chancellor of Rutgers University Newark. "The establishment of a dynamic technology facility and hub for innovation also creates an incredible new avenue of opportunity for Rutgers students and the rest of the academic community in Newark."
For media inquiries please contact Jake Oliver at The TASC Group at 212-337-8870 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
ABOUT NEWARK VENTURE PARTNERS
Newark Venture Partners is New Jersey's first elite 21st-century venture organization, providing capital, company-building services and residence to innovative tech start-ups in Newark. Newark Venture Partners exists in principal part to establish Newark's comeback as a technology and innovation hub, and to affirm Newark and New Jersey as a flourishing home to early-stage growth companies that will catalyze economic development and create access to new jobs for all citizens.
ABOUT FIREBOLT NEWARK WI-FI
Firebolt Newark Wi-Fi is Newark's new free, lightning-fast public Wi-Fi network, connecting Newark's downtown and other neighborhoods. Firebolt Newark Wi-Fi is the fastest, large-scale contiguous open public Wi-Fi network of its kind in the world.
Contact: Jake Oliver/The TASC Group
SOURCE Newark Venture Partners