Updated 11:00 a.m. Jan. 18: Montgomery County has been named one of 20 potential sites for Amazon’s second headquarters, the tech company announced Thursday morning.
The shortlist also includes Washington, D.C., and Northern Virginia, as well as other major metropolitan areas such as Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, Austin and Toronto.
Two government officials involved in preparing the Amazon pitch said Thursday that Montgomery County suggested the White Flint area for the company’s headquarters. County Executive Ike Leggett would not confirm or deny that information Thursday morning in an interview with Bethesda Beat.
He said the county will soon put out a full statement with additional details about its proposal including the site that was pitched to Amazon and information abut the financial incentives the county offered. He wasn't immediately sure when that information would be released, but said "it would lack transparency to not inform the public about every facet of our proposal."
Leggett said being named to the shortlist was good news for the county.
“I’m excited, but I realize that this is the first step in a series of steps,” Leggett said. “In order to be in the game, you have to be up to bat and ready to play and we're ready to play.”
Leggett said moving on in the process reflects the county’s strong proposal it pitched to the company, as well as the area’s “tremendous workforce” high-quality school system and that the county is a desirable place to live.
In a statement released Thursday, Leggett noted that Montgomery County was the only county to make the final 20.
Amazon announced that in the coming months, it plans to work with each potential site to “dive deeper into their proposals, request additional information as necessary, and evaluate the feasibility of a future partnership.”
Leggett said county officials involved in wooing Amazon to the county will soon be talking with Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and his staff on how best to proceed. The county was the only location in Maryland named to the shortlist.
Hogan issued a statement Thursday hailing the news of Montgomery County making the shortlist. He originally favored a Baltimore city site for Amazon.
“Maryland put forward an extremely strong group of sites that were all supported by the state with incentive packages totaling more than $5 billion, including road and transit improvements,” Hogan said. “Going forward, we will continue working with our partners in Montgomery County, including County Executive Ike Leggett and his team, to ensure that we do everything possible to bring this project home. This news is certainly welcome, but the real challenge lies ahead–and Maryland is ready to meet it.”
Amazon expects to choose the headquarters location this year.
In September, the company announced its search for a headquarters that would have as many as 50,000 employees and cost about $5 billion to construct.
Montgomery County quickly entered the race to woo the tech giant as one of 238 locations to submit a proposal. In its bid, the county focused on the area’s educated workforce, transportation network and internet connectivity. The county did not publicly release information about financial or tax incentives it’s offering the tech giant, as well as the exact site it’s pitching in the documents provided to Bethesda Beat through a public information request.
County Council President Hans Riemer said the news shows the county "is on the right path to building a great place to live and work."
However, he noted the county will now have to enter sensitive negotiations with Amazon and compete against other high quality jurisdictions to land the company.
“A project of this size would have a huge impact on the county,” Riemer said. “It would have a lot of benefits, but we know Amazon doesn't come for free. They're going to seek major tax incentives. We will have to negotiate with an eye on making sure the balance falls very heavily in our favor. There's a win, win here, no doubt, but this is where it starts to get complicated.”
Casey Anderson, who chairs the Montgomery County Planning Board, said the fact that Montgomery County, D.C., and Northern Virginia made the short list debunks the idea that the region is unattractive to business.
“I think it’s good to show that we’re ready and able to compete for any major corporate headquarters,” Anderson said.
He added that the planning department has already shown the ability to work with companies to advance major projects. For instance, the planning board recently approved the proposal for Marriott International’s new headquarters in downtown Bethesda.
“Our track record is second to none in being responsive when we need to get something done quickly and still making sure there’s attention to the quality of the project,” he said.
County Council member Roger Berliner said he was "grinning ear to ear" after hearing that the county made the shortlist.
"To be one of only 20 communities in North America–and the only Maryland community–I think speaks volumes to how strong our proposal is and how desirable our county is," Berliner said Thursday. "So, we made the first cut, now we have to land it."
The other locations named to Amazon's shortlist are:
- Los Angeles
- New York City
- Northern Virginia
- Washington, D.C.