As much as Maryland Governor Larry Hogan wants Amazon.com to locate its HQ2 in Montgomery County, he’d be delighted if the tech giant picked anywhere in the Washington metropolitan area. Accordingly. Maryland, D.C., and Virginia are working to pitch Greater Washington to Amazon as a unified region, he said Wednesday.
Hogan’s remarks, reports the Washington Business Journal, follow disclosures that officials from multiple Greater Washington jurisdictions have been discussing regional issues relating to the project, which could bring $5 billion in investment and more than 5,000 jobs to the region.
“Now, we all had our individual bids, and we’re still hoping,” said the Republican Maryland governor. “We think that Maryland had made a very, very attractive offer, one of the best in the country, and we’d love to have them here, but if that was the decision that Amazon made, to bring it to the Washington area and share, mix jurisdictions, we certainly would be supportive of that as well.”
If I were Amazon, one of my biggest concerns about locating in the Washington metropolitan is the division of government between two states and the district — an arrangement that has proven dysfunctional for regional organizations such as the Metropolitan Washington Area Transit Authority (which operates the Metro) and the Washington Metropolitan Airports Authority. I would be greatly heartened to see any sign that the states were willing to work collaboratively.
I think the Washington metro has a serious shot at bagging the Amazon HQ2. It only makes sense for the jurisdictions to collaborate because the impact would be so huge that, no matter which specific location Amazon selected, there would be big spillover effects everywhere.
I remain highly ambivalent about the desirability of winning the Amazon project, given that (a) in a labor market experiencing labor shortages, newly created jobs can be filled only by people coming from outside the region, which would mean (b) state and local governments would have to absorb big new costs for schools, services, and transportation, (c) Amazon would be extracting such huge subsidies and tax concessions that it won’t help pay for much of that growth, and (d) non-Amazon taxpayers would get hosed.
However, Amazon would help diversify a regional economy that is dangerously dependent upon federal expenditures, would turbocharge the regional tech economy, and would give Washington huge bragging rights for winning more tech companies and corporate headquarters. In the balance, I share Hogan’s view that HQ2 would be a good thing for the Washington region whichever jurisdiction it chooses.