County and governor push to get Amazon headquarters in MoCo
With an estimated 50,000 potential jobs hanging in the balance, Montgomery County is among the 20 communities vying to be the location of Amazon’s second headquarters, the company announced last week.
Local officials were pleased to see that the County made the cut in a competitive field composed mainly of major cities, each of which is bending over backwards to woo the retailer with a seemingly endless arsenal of tax subsidies and other incentives.
“As the only county in the country on the short list, having the ability to move forward for further consideration is a real honor,” said County Executive Ike Leggett (D). “I believe our initial proposal made an extremely strong case for Montgomery County as a great place to do business, and I look forward to working with Amazon to bring jobs and investment to the County.”
Last year, the Seattle-based online retail giant – one of the world’s largest corporations – announced plans to open a second headquarters, the construction of which would pump $5 billion into the location’s local economy in addition to providing 50,000 new jobs. On Jan. 18 Amazon cut down its original list of 238 requests for proposals from cities and counties in the U.S. and Canada down to just 20.
Joining Montgomery County on the final list of 20 are Atlanta, New York City, Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia. While County officials have not disclosed the details of their offer to Amazon which includes large tax subsidies, Gov. Larry Hogan announced plans to introduce legislation that would provide Amazon with an additional $5 billion in tax incentives and transportation improvement projects on top of Montgomery County’s offer in hopes of luring Amazon to the Old Line State.
“Amazon sent a clear signal that Maryland truly is open for business by selecting Montgomery County as one of an elite group of contenders for this transformative project,” Hogan said in a statement Monday.
Hogan’s proposed PRIME Act would give Amazon $10 million a year for 15 years from the state’s budget as well as a state income tax credit equivalent to 5.75 percent of wage for each new job, a state and local property tax credit and exemption on the state’s sales and use tax for construction material or warehousing equipment.
County Council President Hans Riemer (D-At-Large) touted the County’s diversity, highly-rated public schools and educated population as key factors that would lure a company such as Amazon to the County. While Riemer said he was excited to hear the County made Amazon’s short list for a new headquarters, he said all potential negotiations between the County and Amazon were left for the County Executive, with the County Council only having the power to approve the final deal.
“There’s a lot of conversation about the tax incentives, and what I would say is this is going to have to be a good deal for Montgomery County,” Riemer said.
Montgomery County has a history of offering major tax incentives to keep or attract large corporations. In 2016, the County came to an agreement with Marriott International to keep their corporate headquarters in Bethesda, with the County offering around $60 million in incentives. In early January, Silver Spring-based Discovery Communications rebuffed what Ike Leggett called the largest tax incentive offer the County has ever made to a private corporation, and announced the move of their headquarters to New York.