Transportation Secretary Says Maryland Will Do ‘Whatever It Takes’ To Land Amazon
Montgomery County is only location in state on company's shortlist for its new headquarters
Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn addresses the crowd gathered for a Purple Line event at Montgomery College in Silver Spring/ Takoma Park on Thursday night
Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn said Thursday in Montgomery County that the state will do whatever it can to bring Amazon’s new headquarters project to the county.
“Whatever it takes to satisfy Amazon to locate in Maryland, that’s what we’re going to do,” Rahn said at an event focused on the Purple Line in Silver Spring Thursday night. “There’s not many times in my life where I’ve been involved in having to commit resources where I’ve said, ‘whatever it takes’, but that’s what we’re going to do.
“But a project that can deliver 50,000 jobs that pay $100,000 a year—those are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and we’ve got to do whatever it takes to bring them to Maryland, which from their standpoint would be a brilliant decision from them to choose Maryland,” Rahn said.
Rahn’s comments echoed a statement from Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Thursday. The governor said the state would “do everything possible to bring this project home” after Amazon, which is based in Seattle, named Montgomery County as one of 20 locations in North America it’s considering for its second headquarters.
The county was the only location in Maryland to make the shortlist, although Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia also were named to it.
Hogan said in a statement that Maryland is prepared to present incentive packages totaling more than $5 billion—including road and transit improvements—to encourage the company to pick Montgomery County. Any incentive package the state offers will require approval from state lawmakers and could be the biggest economic development deal offered in state history, according to The Baltimore Sun.
Rahn said needed transportation improvements will have to be a combination of roadway updates and transit.
“It’s my opinion that congestion, frankly, has gotten so bad that just transit is not going to solve it and just highways is not going to solve it,” Rahn said. “We are going to have to use all of the above. We are going to have to invest in transportation systems, if we’re going to maintain a high quality of life for people who want to work in Maryland. If we do not, we are not only going to see a deteriorating quality of life, but we are going to see a diminishing economy because businesses do not want to locate in the most congested area of the United States.”
Rahn said the state plans to leverage the $5.6 billion investment being made in the 16.2-mile light-rail Purple Line, which will run between Bethesda and New Carrollton in Prince George’s County, to connect the new transit line with highways, bus lines and other transportation infrastructure in the state.
Other than the Purple Line, Hogan has also proposed a public-private partnership to widen I-270 and I-495 to add four toll lanes to both highways to attempt to reduce congestion.
“I would hope the announcements that we’ve had about major investments in transportation in general would be encouraging to Mr. Bezos,” Rahn said, referring to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
Multiple Montgomery County government officials have told Bethesda Beat that the county pitched the White Flint area to Amazon for its new headquarters, although the county has not publicly released the site it pitched.
The county made Amazon’s shortlist, which the company whittled down from 238 locations that submitted bids to be considered for the second headquarters. Other locations that made the list include New York City, Austin, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas and Denver.
County Executive Ike Leggett told Bethesda Beat Thursday the county would release more information about its proposal to Amazon soon, but did not know when. Bethesda Beat obtained part of the county’s bid through a public information request earlier this month, but portions related to financial incentives and the site being pitched to Amazon were redacted.
An Amazon official sent an email to Tim Firestine, the county’s chief administrative officer, on Thursday morning informing him the county is still in the headquarters competition.
“We would like to move Montgomery County, MD forward in the process so we can continue to learn more about your community, your talent, and potential real estate options,” Amazon economic development executive Holly Sullivan wrote, according to the email shared with Bethesda Beat.
Hogan said in his statement the state will work with Leggett and his team moving forward to try to land the company in the county.