Maryland, Virginia governors pitch their states as site for Northrop headquarters

By John Wagner, Aaron C. Davis and V. Dion Haynes
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, February 13, 2010

The governors of Maryland and Virginia held separate meetings with top executives of Northrop Grumman on Friday to encourage the defense contractor to move its headquarters to their states.

Northrop Grumman last month announced plans to relocate its corporate office from Los Angeles to somewhere in the Washington region, and since then Maryland, Virginia and the District have been waging a fierce battle to capture the prestige and millions of dollars in property taxes that would come with the move.

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) and legislative leaders met with Northrop Grumman President and Chief Executive Officer Wes Bush and another company official in Annapolis. Bush also visited Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) in Richmond.

D.C. Council member Kwame R. Brown (D-At Large), who chairs the council's economic development committee, said he was not aware of a meeting between the company and city officials.

"District officials have met with Northrop Grumman on multiple occasions," said a spokeswoman for Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D).

Maryland still appears to be in the running, as potential locations were discussed Friday, including National Harbor in Prince George's County, the Gaithersburg-Rockville area and College Park, according to House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel), who sat in for part of the meeting at the State House.

"We've put forth our offer, and we're working very closely with them," said O'Malley spokesman Shaun Adamec.

Adamec would not disclose the contents of the state's offer but said O'Malley asked Democratic legislative leaders to attend part of the meeting to show a unified front. The budget impact of an incentive package could require legislative approval, Adamec said.

Northrop Grumman officials were seen walking through the State House on Friday with O'Malley, Busch and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert). Also with them was Christian S. Johansson, O'Malley's secretary of business and economic development.

O'Malley, who had just returned from surveying the snowstorm's impact in Western Maryland, was clad in a camouflage hunting jacket and boots.

After the meeting in the governor's office, O'Malley asked Miller, a history buff, to show the Northrop Grumman officials the historic Old Senate Chamber in the State House, Adamec said.

Busch said he is hopeful that an incentive package, along with the defense giant's ties to Johns Hopkins University and federal facilities in the state, would win the company over.

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