Having a positive impact on the local community is as important as selling audiobooks for Audible, Inc., an independently operated subsidiary of Amazon and the world’s largest producer and seller of digital spoken-word entertainment. This is why the company moved to Newark in 2007 to become a champion of Newark’s revitalization.
Since it arrived at its One Washington Park headquarters, Audible employees have worked alongside Newark-born students as part of the company’s internship program, enjoyed tickets to sports and cultural events, and celebrated the city’s history through its conference rooms, each named for an illustrious Newark person or place. Now, employees have even more reason to embrace Audible’s hometown.
In January, Audible announced its Newark Now! residential incentive program, through which the company offered a year’s subsidized rent for 20 employees who want to live in downtown Newark, specifically in the newly redeveloped Hahne Building on Broad Street. Audible founder and CEO Don Katz said he was looking for “…Audible employees who want to be pioneers and positively disruptive forces in Newark’s continued tipping point….” Those who didn’t win the lottery can still be part of this broader effort. Audible is offering every employee who lives in or moves to Newark a rental subsidy of $250 per month for the next two years. Just since January, the number of Audible employees living in Newark has increased nearly 40 percent.
This spring, Audible launched Lunch Out Wednesday, a neighborhood dining program where Audible doles out debit cards to 100 employees for use at restaurants all over downtown Newark. Earlier this month, Audible doubled the program to 200 cards and increased the number of Newark restaurants participating in the program. The cards are distributed weekly to full-time employees on a first-come, first-served basis, and over 400 employees have already participated in the program.
“It’s our founder and CEO’s vision to be a company that means something more than just the work it does,” explains Audible Vice President Colin Newman. “The goal is to stimulate the local economy, support the Newark streetscape, and help underserved populations in Newark.”
Katz ascribes to the theory that every high-tech job in a city creates five additional jobs outside of the tech sector. The theory, developed by Cal-Berkley professor Enrico Moretti, says that high-tech employees are generally well paid, and that wealth cascades down to both highly skilled and entry-level employees.
Audible itself is growing as well. The company is expanding its Newark headquarters to include offices in a neighboring building facing Washington Park as well as rejuvenating the historic Second Presbyterian Church in Newark into Audible’s global technology hub. According to Newman, “It’s all part of Katz’s vision to be a positively disruptive force in Newark.”
For more information about this program, Audible’s efforts in Newark, and how you can replicate these programs at your companies in Newark, please contact Colin Newman (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Jennifer Shin (email@example.com) at Audible.