(Image courtesy of Under Armour)
“This must be the place.”
That’s how Mayor Catherine Pugh and other speakers finished their remarks at City Garage in Port Covington on Wednesday morning to mark the city’s submission of its bid for Amazon’s HQ2. It came a day before the Oct. 19 deadline set by the company.
With the bid, the city joins others across the country who are attempting to woo the ecommerce giant, and its promise of 50,000 jobs and $5 billion in construction.
While the specifics of the contents of the package being delivered to Seattle are under wraps, Pugh and other leaders gave some broad looks at how the city is pitching itself.
— Al Hutchinson (@alhutchinson59) October 18, 2017
Speaking after a video laden with pop culture references to Baltimore, Pugh said the metro area meets Amazon’s criteria of being larger than 1 million people, with 2.8 million people total. She also pointed out the city’s low cost of living, accessibility via air, rail and port. Baltimore Development Corporation CEO Bill Cole has also pointed out that Amazon previously worked with Baltimore to set up a fulfillment center on Broening Highway.
The fact that the city has a site for HQ2 is a major selling point for the city. Sagamore Development leaders immediately offered Port Covington as a site for the development. The South Baltimore land, owned by companies controlled by Under Armour founder Kevin Plank, is being primed for a new headquarters for the apparel giant. But there’s enough room for a second big player, they said.
“What makes this location unique? Port Covington is a 235-acre, shovel-ready site that could easily accommodate the eight million square feet of vertical construction as stated in the RFP. And guess what, they don’t have to go through any zoning process. It’s already available right now,” Pugh said.
While leaders haven’t released details on what tax breaks or other incentives they are offering Amazon, Port Covington does have one already approved in the form of a $660 million Tax Increment Financing deal for infrastructure at the site that was approved last year.
Along with incentives, there were also hints of an appeal to Jeff Bezos’ heart. We’ve heard suggestions that the proposal include appeals to Amazon’s ability to transform the city. Port Covington is already putting that idea in motion, and Amazon could add to it, said Marcus Stephens, executive creative director of Plank Industries.
“Baltimore represents more than any other city an authentic opportunity for Amazon to make genuine, active change,” he said. “Look around, this place was an empty garage two years ago. The momentum is here.”
It’s worth noting that leaders have coalesced around the idea of putting HQ2 at Port Covington. Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz endorsed the city’s site. The state Department of Commerce also got involved after Gov. Larry Hogan endorsed the idea. Johns Hopkins offered support and helped showcase Baltimore’s diversity, proximity to other metros and ability to attract talent, the Baltimore Business Journal reported.
“The proposal was a truly collaborative effort and process,” Pugh said.
However, Baltimore is not the only Maryland jurisdiction sending a package to Amazon. Howard County, Prince George’s County and College Park all previously signaled plans for a proposal.