Amazon Passes Over Montgomery County for HQ2

Local officials say entire region will benefit from company's decision to choose Arlington as one of two sites for additional headquarters

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Amazon will split a much-anticipated project between Arlington, Virginia, and New York City, knocking Montgomery County out of the running for the multibillion dollar investment in its second headquarters.

The new Arlington location will be in National Landing, about 3 miles from Washington, D.C., while the New York City location will be in Queens, Amazon announced Tuesday morning. Hiring at both locations will begin in 2019, Amazon said.

“We are excited to build new headquarters in New York City and Northern Virginia,” Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, said in a press release. “These two locations will allow us to attract world-class talent that will help us to continue inventing for customers for years to come. The team did a great job selecting these sites, and we look forward to becoming an even bigger part of these communities.”

The White Flint area of Montgomery County was reportedly one of 20 locations, and the only site in Maryland, that Amazon was considering for the site of its second headquarters.

Despite not landing the second headquarters in Montgomery, County Executive Ike Leggett joined local officials in saying the county can anticipate seeing a “positive ripple effect” from the nearby Arlington location.

“I will say it’s reassuring at least one part of the project will be located in the Washington region, and surely the greatest impact will be in Arlington, but we can all benefit to some extent from that location,” Leggett said.

With the tens of thousands of jobs anticipated to be generated at each location, Leggett said county officials expect those employees to live throughout the region, which will positively impact economic development, higher education institutions and other community amenities.

A report released Tuesday from the Stephen S. Fuller Institute for Research on the Washington Region’s Economic Future projects approximately 8 percent of Arlington’s Amazon workers to live in Montgomery County.

Thirty-three percent and 16.4 percent are expected to live in Virginia’s Fairfax and Arlington counties, respectively, with less significant impacts on other counties throughout the region.

The Fuller Institute believes Amazon impacts and economic growth throughout the region will be gradual and occur over the course of several years, but Montgomery County could generate a net household gain of 4,441, the report says.

Montgomery County Economic Development Corp. CEO David Petr echoed Leggett, saying economic development leaders will use information gathered during the Amazon bidding process to market the area to other businesses.

With Amazon in the county’s backyard, Petr said the county will “be even more assertive” in reaching out to companies that complement Amazon and Montgomery County assets.

“(Tuesday’s) announcement was an absolute win for the region and for Montgomery County, Maryland,” Petr said. “Not only was this an incredible opportunity to collaborate with our peers in Northern Virginia and D.C., we also made new discoveries that will drive business opportunities for decades to come.”

County Council President Hans Riemer said Tuesday he was excited about the possibilities created by Amazon’s decision to choose Arlington as one of the locations.

“I think we will gain from their location in the region. I think it’s going to turn the regional economy more in the direction of technology and innovation. I hope we can capture opportunities as a result,” he said. “We’re going to have house issues to address. We’re going to have workforce development issues to address to ensure that our residents have a chance [at] those jobs. Certainly I would’ve preferred that they locate in the county, but half a loaf is better than no loaf.”

Gov. Larry Hogan described Amazon’s decision as “a tremendous win for the entire Capital region” and said he looked forward to working with the leaders of Virginia and Washington, D.C., to welcome the company to the area.

“Collectively, we will not only gain 25,000 corporate-level jobs, but also many businesses that are part of Amazon’s supply chain,” Hogan said. “I want to thank County Executive Ike Leggett and all of our partners in Montgomery County for working with us to put forth a strong proposal that highlighted the outstanding advantages of doing business in Maryland.”

Seattle-based Amazon began its search for a location to build a $5 billion headquarters complex, dubbed HQ2, to house up to 50,000 employees in September 2017, and the county threw its hat in the ring of contenders. The county was named one of 20 finalists for the project in January.

Earlier this month, the company reported it would split the second headquarters between two locations, and information leaked that Northern Virginia was a frontrunner for one of the locations.

Drawn by transportation access, especially to airports, and diverse communities, Amazon said each location will develop about 4 million square feet of office space, with the opportunity to expand to 8 million square feet at each location. The Arlington site will generate an estimated incremental tax revenue of $3.2 billion over the next 20 years as a result of Amazon’s investment, and the New York City site will generate about $10 billion in tax revenue over the next 20 years.

Leggett said he doesn’t know exactly what separated Arlington and New York from the rest of the pack, but said the county was competitive in the bidding process.

Maryland brought its tax and infrastructure incentives to lure Amazon to choose Montgomery County before the state legislature, which approved the $8.5 billion deal last spring. But officials mostly remained mum about where the headquarters would have been located within the county, although a lawsuit centered on the former White Flint mall property asserts Amazon officials toured that site March 4.

“It was a very competitive process and my hat is off to both (locations) for prevailing,” Leggett said.

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