2015 | Politics

Greater Washington Board of Trade Sends Letter to Hogan in Support of Purple Line

The letter was signed by leaders of more than a dozen large regional businesses

Add 20 prominent regional business leaders to the list of people who have sent letters lobbying Gov. Larry Hogan to approve the Purple Line.

The Greater Washington Board of Trade sent a letter last week urging the governor to support the transit project.

The letter focuses on how the light-rail line would provide needed connections to expanding work centers.

“Too often the discussion surrounding the Purple Line becomes limited to the number of jobs it will ‘create,’ when the expanded opportunity must focus on an emerging challenge facing business across Montgomery and Prince George’s County: hiring enough people to fill the high-paying jobs currently or projected to be vacant over the coming five years,” reads the letter. “The fight for talent is real and the costs of cars, insurance parking, maintenance and the availability of car-share programs has dictated more and more that public transportation will continue to grow in value and importance for those looking to hire and those looking for work.”

The letter was signed by business leaders including Rynthia Rost, the vice president of public affairs at Geico; Linda Rabbit, the CEO of Rand* Construction; and Gary Tabach, the managing partner of Deloitte’s greater Washington practice. Presidents and vice presidents of M&T Bank, Chain Bridge Bank, SunTrust Bank and Capital One Bank also signed on to the letter as well as the regional presidents for Kaiser Permanente and Verizon.

The letter was first reported by The Washington Post.

“These are large regional businesses,” Jim Dinegar, the president and CEO of the Greater Washington Board of Trade, said. “They have a big footprint including lots of employees, lots of customers and lots of regional business partners.

Dinegar said if the governor kills the project he would be sending the message that “Maryland is not an easy place to do business.”

He added that it would send troubling messages to Marriott—which has publicly said it plans to move its headquarters to a location with more public transportation options—and the University of Maryland. The light-rail would connect the College Park campus with employment centers like Bethesda and Silver Spring.

Dinegar said not building the Purple Line “would express a lack of confidence in the growth and viability of the University of Maryland.”

The Board is the largest regional network of business and non-profit leaders in the Washington, D.C. area. It primarily focuses its attention on business concerns that span geographic boundaries, according to its website.

The organization helped fund an economic impact study with Prince George’s and Montgomery counties that estimated 27,000 more permanent jobs would come to the area if the Purple Line is built.

The Board is the latest in a series of proponents of the Purple Line who have sent letters urging the governor to support the $2.45 billion project. Montgomery County’s business leaders and the state’s Congressional delegation have also sent letters in support of the project.

The Town of Chevy Chase, which has long opposed the project, sent a letter asking the governor to closely examine the costs of the project and the data being used to demonstrate its need.

The governor is expected to make a decision on whether to support the Purple Line sometime later this month. The governor, who has balked at the high cost of the project, has not provided Montgomery County with any information about changes he may be considering to the project’s design or cost, according to county spokesman Patrick Lacefield.

Board of Trade Letter to Gov. Larry Hogan on the Purple Line