Here’s how Baltimore leaders pitched Amazon to bring HQ2 to Port Covington

With the site out of the running, the proposal is now available to the public. The city didn't offer any additional incentives beyond the existing Port Covington TIF.

A rendering of Under Armour's forthcoming Port Covington campus. (Courtesy image)
This story was updated at 10:30 a.m. on 2/16/18.

Last month, we learned that Baltimore wasn’t on the shortlist of cities being considered by Amazon for its second headquarters. With the proposal to bring HQ2 to Port Covington no longer in the running, officials made the bid publicly available this week.
A group that helmed the package including Marcus Stephens, executive creative director of the proposal and Port Covington team, Plank Industries CEO Tom Geddes and Baltimore Development Corporation CEO Bill Cole made the documents available at City Garage on Wednesday. A website containing the bid is also now available.
The proposal also includes a video showing “A Day in the Life of a Baltimore Professional,” who visits spots around the harbor including the various properties developed by Under Armour and Kevin Plank–owned Sagamore Development and a tablet with an app created by Balti Virtual that shows three layers of the physical site.
See the proposal
(Update: The website will be available through February 21. Find the proposal here.)
Soon after Amazon announced the public bid for the 50,000-job project, Baltimore officials settled on pitching Port Covington as the site, which would fit HQ2 beside a future Under Armour campus. Officials noted how it represented an example of civic, business and education institutions working together, and said they plan to repurpose some of the materials.
The proposal itself is primarily focused on how Amazon could transform the South Baltimore peninsula, which it describes as “shovel-ready” and a “virtual blank slate.” A big focus is on bringing new digital infrastructure to the neighborhood.
“It is the only site that will allow Amazon to build a living laboratory focused on customer and user experience, and a valuable sandbox for Amazon’s technologies, products and vision,” the proposal states. Throughout, the proposal also includes other chances for Amazon to brand the city’s bikeshare, and
Another focus throughout is on education. It talks of potential to partner with Johns Hopkins’ Center for Speech and Language Processing, where early research that eventually helped create Alexa took place, as well as University System of Maryland schools.
The release comes after officials initially denied public records requests to see the proposal, saying they didn’t want other cities to see what they were offering as far as incentives.
In the proposal, the only incentives offered by the city are the previously-approved $660 million TIF package for infrastructure at Port Covington. Cole said that was one of the largest development packages in the country.
The state had its own offer of incentives. However, that section remains redacted as it is backing Montgomery County’s still-in-the-running bid. The state has suggested it would offer a $5 billion package in support there. Baltimore’s team is now backing that bid, as well.
Questions still remain about the specific reasons why Baltimore didn’t make the cut. Geddes and Cole said they believe it’s an extremely data-driven process. They asked about topics such as crime and access to transit, but didn’t get specific answers on a follow-up call. Another key area was talent that could be hired immediately. The Amazon officials on the call didn’t specifically say this, either, but did mention that Baltimore should keep encouraging STEM education and partnerships between K-12 and universities.
“It’s was clear from the earliest stage of the RFP that it was the top priority,” Geddes said.

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