Rutgers University–Newark (RU-N) and Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences (RBHS) are on track to reach, and in some cases exceed, their Hire.Buy.Live.Newark goals unveiled more than a year ago. A major collective impact initiative, Hire.Buy.Live.Newark was created to dramatically reduce poverty and unemployment in Newark and strengthen the city's economy by 2020. Organizations and individuals across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors in Newark are participating in the initiative, which entails committing to employ more Newarkers and increase procurement of goods and services from Newark-based businesses.

Perhaps no one embodies the Hire.Buy.Live.Newark initiative more than Yla Eason, an instructor of professional practice at Rutgers Business School–Newark and New Brunswick (RBS). Eason officially joined the Rutgers faculty in 2017 and moved to downtown Newark in 2018. She teaches two undergraduate classes, one on advertising and another on marketing for nonprofit organizations. As part of her advertising class, students have created campaigns for Forward Ever Sustainable Business Alliance, a Newark-based nonprofit, targeted at other Rutgers students to get them to sign up for a “Shop Newark” cash rewards card. Like other loyalty cards, the more a person uses the Shop Newark card to transact business at participating Newark companies and stores, the more cash back he or she receives annually. Newark homeowners can apply their cash back to deduct from their property taxes while non-homeowners, visitors, employees, and students receive a check. To date, Eason’s students have signed up more than 200 Newarkers. 

Rutgers University–Newark student Michelle Quetant tests her “Shop Newark” cash rewards card strategy in front of her classmates in Prof. Yla Eason’s fall 2017 advertising class. Credit: Ronald Scott

RU-N and RBHS are searching for more people like Eason to get them closer to satisfying their collective vow to make 220 local hires in total by 2020. They no doubt will surpass their objective having already achieved 65 percent of their goal within the initiative’s first year. From June 2017 to June 2018, of the 2,901 overall faculty and staff at RU-N, 103 were newly hired Newark residents, and of the 3,568 overall faculty and staff at RBHS, 41 were newly hired Newarkers, for a combined total of 144 new local hires.

“Since the launch of the program in June 2017, the goal of Human Resources has been to actively engage with Rutgers–Newark and RBHS hiring departments to identify needs that translate to an excellent candidate pool. By doing so, we not only create pathways for Newark residents to become gainfully employed but also serve the RU-N anchor mission,” said Arleska Castillo, director of Rutgers Human Resources-Newark. “Unsurprisingly, Newark is filled with exceptional talent, and we are a proud partner in the hire local initiative.”

Another purpose of Hire.Buy.Live.Newark is to increase local procurement by Newark’s anchor institutions on a much larger scale than that proffered by Eason and her advertising students. Projections released last year indicated that increasing local procurement from its then-current position of three percent to 10 percent would add $33 million to Newark’s economy. Consequently, to spur economic growth, RU-N Chancellor Nancy Cantor and RBHS Chancellor Brian Strom announced their intention to increase the combined local procurement of RU-N and RBHS to 30 percent by 2020. They currently are at 23 percent.

Shop Newark Card
Shop Newark - Use the Shop Newark card to transact business at participating Newark companies and stores to earn cash back annually. Newark homeowners can apply their cash back to deduct from their property taxes while non-homeowners, visitors, employees, and students receive a check. Credit: Courtesy of Eat.Play.Stay.Newark

“Through frequent meetups, we are attempting to change the purchasing culture at Newark’s large institutions by introducing, and in some cases reintroducing, procurement managers to Newark suppliers of goods and services,” stated Kevin Lyons, professor of professional practice at RBS, and director of its Public-Private Community Partnership Program. The principal investigator of extensive research into the breadth and depth of Newark’s network of more than 400 manufacturers, Lyons has been working for several years with regional collaborators to improve key business functions of Newark-based manufacturers. “Significant inroads have been made in the print and paper industries. We’re making noticeable progress in food, catering, textile, and apparel.”

To further enhance Newark’s attractiveness to potential employees and individual consumers like Eason, Hire.Buy.Live.Newark partners also have been investing in infrastructure projects designed to leverage the physical, cultural, and intellectual assets of the community. Major capital projects initiated or completed throughout the city include:

  • 15 Washington Street, a restored and renovated historic neoclassical skyscraper on Washington Park that houses 330 graduate and undergraduate students, which features a Great Hall for major gatherings and Clement’s Place, a popular jazz club programmed by the Rutgers-Newark Institute of Jazz Studies, the world’s most comprehensive jazz archive;
  • site preparation for the innovative Honors Living-Learning Community that will house 400 students, many of whom will be from Newark and Greater Newark;
  • rehabilitation of the RU-N-owned building at 155 Washington Street for approximately 225 residential units, retail space, and more;
  • the newly renovated Hahne & Company building, which includes state-of-the-art apartments, upscale shops and restaurants, and an in-house Whole Foods;
  • the opening of One Theater Square with approximately 245 luxury apartments, located across the street from NJPAC and Military Park and within walking distance of Whole Foods and the arts and cultural happenings of downtown Newark; and
  • two skyscraper residential complexes financed by former NBA star and Newark native  Shaquille O’Neal in partnership with developer Boraie that offer more than 500 additional apartment units.

RU-N, RBHS, and other institutions and organizations are on the right track and have made significant strides to elevate the economic and living standards of Newarkers and the overall attractiveness of Newark to potential new residents. Visit to learn more about the Hire.Buy.Live.Newark initiative and access a comprehensive database of Newark businesses along with a description of their goods and services. For more information about the Shop Newark cash rewards program, visit