by Mike Russell
At a press conference on the former site of the New York Shipbuilding Corporation – a powerhouse of Camden’s industrial past – Governor Christie formally announced that Holtec International, an Evesham–based energy company, will move to the Camden waterfront.
It’s been rumored for a week or so that Holtec was moving to Camden, especially after the New Jersey Economic Development Authority approved a $260 million tax incentive paid over ten years to lure the energy firm to the city. The amount is one of the largest tax incentives in New Jersey and the largest for Camden city.
The Holtec deal comes hot on the heels of another big (and controversial) announcement: the $82 million in tax credits that the EDA approved last week for the Philadelphia 76ers to build their practice facility on the Camden waterfront.
In order to secure the $260 million, Holtec has to ensure that it produces at least 400 permanent jobs. Almost half of these are filled already, officials said, but around 235 new jobs are expected to be available. Camden mayor Dana Redd and Governor Christie also promised to bring job development programs to Camden to train city residents for the Holtec jobs. In the mean time, building Holtec’s facility will create about 1,400 construction jobs over the next four years.
Holtec International was founded by Dr. Kris Singh, the company’s current CEO and an alumnus of the University of Pennsylvania, in 1986. His company’s mission, he said at Monday’s press conference, is to “find the biggest tech problems of the day and solve them.” One of those problems is that nuclear reactors can still fail, sometimes with catastrophic results. So, Holtec wants to develop a small nuclear reactor that can never lose control during a meltdown, he said. Holtec plans to manufacture and test (via simulations, so no live nuclear tests in Camden) a small, modular nuclear reactor called the SMR-160.
Holtec was considering a move to Charleston, S.C., which would have been the cheaper option, Singh said, but the company decided to stay in the area because its employees have already made homes here, Singh said. He also knows the area and has deep connections in the region. Holtec has also agreed to manufacture equipment for PSE&G, a local gas and electric company.
The day’s speakers all spoke of the Holtec deal as the first brick that will rebuild the house of Camden – much like they do whenever the state gives a project money to build in the city. Rows of button-up-shirt-clad workers stood up and clapped as Singh outlined his view for a robust energy company. Singh included Camden in his vision of a prosperous future fueled by nuclear energy:
“Maybe you’ll be able to say that nuclear energy’s rebirth occurred in Camden.”*
*An earlier version of this article misstated this quote.
You can contact Mike Russell at SunnyCamdenNJ(@)gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @MikesAndBikes.