I haven’t been a resident of Maryland since 1962 when I was 9 years old. But if I were today, I’d be mighty upset with Larry Hogan.
Maryland’s Republican governor is planning to offer retail giant Amazon $3 billion in tax grants and breaks and $2 billion in transportation improvements to build a second, $5 billion headquarters at the White Flint site on Rockville Pike in Montgomery County. [Amazon chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post.]
It would be a major coup for Maryland because Amazon could bring in 50,000 jobs. Plus, the county is losing Discovery Communications to New York, so the deal would be a really, really big consolation prize.
The largest problem with Hogan’s proposed plan is that it could create a ridiculous, regional bidding war. Northern Virginia and the District are also among the 20 areas, including Boston, Atlanta and Philadelphia, to make this round of cuts.
Virginia’s possible sites are said to be at the border of Fairfax and Loudoun counties near the Metro Silver Line, Arlington and Alexandria. Sites in the District are the older Walter Reed campus, Poplar Point and RFK Stadium.
Virginia officials haven’t said what they would do to counter Hogan’s offer, which so far is $2 billion less than what New Jersey is offering Amazon to go to Newark, which also made the cutoff list. So far, the Garden State leads the national list in goodies.
Once the site of a destination shopping mall, White Flint’s 100 acres do meet some of Amazon’s wish-list items. It’s on a Metro line and there are plenty of well-educated people and two international airports nearby. Virginia’s and the District’s sites offer the same thing.
Rockville Pike is already highly congested as is the Beltway a short distance away. Expanding the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in the area has made traffic even worse.
Obviously, new Amazon workers would come from all over the region, so it would not be Maryland’s singular project. The smart play would be for the three areas to work out some kind of bidding guidelines or not to offer goodies at all. It’s too bad the three governments aren’t known for regional cooperation.
There’s also the moral aspect of this. Why be so good to super-rich Amazon? Maryland Democrats already complain that there are far greater needs in the state, such as Baltimore schools and public transit.
As a Virginia resident, I hope the Old Dominion doesn’t get into a war with Maryland and the District. It would likely take money from Virginia’s inner cities and forlorn rural areas and from improving schools and helping college students with debt.
So, consider with whom you are dealing. Amazon’s stock has been trading at nearly $1,300 a share. Its market cap has jumped to around $624 billion. A stock analyst believes it could be $1.6 trillion within about 20 years.
In other words, cry me an Amazon.