- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 18, 2018

Local officials had reason to smile Thursday after Amazon announced that three Beltway communities are among those on the short list for the online giant’s second headquarters.

The 20 localities making the cut included Montgomery County, Maryland; Northern Virginia, and the District itself, prompting cheers from state and local officials hoping to land the plum campus, known as Amazon HQ2.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan called the announcement “tremendous news for Montgomery County, our entire state, and further proof Maryland is truly open for business,” while D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said luring Amazon “would be a win for our residents and the region.”

“Making this list reaffirms what we already knew going into the bid process — Washington, D.C., is no longer a one-company government town, we are a leader in innovation and tech, brimming with top talent and endless opportunity,” Miss Bowser said in a statement.

A total of 238 cities and counties applied for consideration to house Amazon HQ2, which is expected to support up to 50,000 “high-paying jobs” and “tens of billions of dollars in additional investment in the surrounding community,” according to Amazon.

The Seattle-based e-commerce giant said a final decision on the project is expected by the end this year.

“Getting from 238 to 20 was very tough — all the proposals showed tremendous enthusiasm and creativity,” Amazon spokeswoman Holly Sullivan said in a press release.

Amazon has said it seeks to locate its second campus in an urban or suburban area with at least 1 million residents and a “stable and business-friendly environment.”

The company now will “work with each candidate locations to dive deeper into their proposals, request additional information, and evaluate the feasibility of a future partnership that can accommodate the company’s hiring plans as well as benefit its employees and the local community.”

American Enterprise Institute resident fellow Desmond Lachman said a company like Amazon could provide a huge boost for the metropolitan area, as long as government officials don’t go overboard on the incentives.

“It depends how much you give away in order to get it. If you give them all sorts of tax breaks, then it might not be that great an idea,” said Mr. Lachman. “Generally, people want a vibrant, dynamic company, high tech and all the rest, and it’s going to create well-paid jobs. That’s why all these different cities are falling over themselves in order to attract Amazon.”

Mr. Hogan said the state put together an incentives package worth more than $5 billion, which includes road and transit upgrades.

“Going forward, we will continue working with our partners in Montgomery County, including County Executive Ike Leggett and his team, to ensure that we do everything possible to bring this project home,” Mr. Hogan said in a statement. “This news is certainly welcome, but the real challenge lies ahead — and Maryland is ready to meet it.”

The other metropolitan areas on the short list are Atlanta; Austin, Texas; Boston; Chicago; Columbus, Ohio; Dallas; Denver; Indianapolis; Los Angeles; Miami; Nashville, Tennessee; Newark, New Jersey; New York City; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Raleigh, North Carolina; and one Canadian city — Toronto, Ontario.

Amazon’s urban campus in Seattle delivered an estimated $38 billion from 2010 to 2016 to the city’s economy, according to the publicly traded company, founded in 1994 by Jeff Bezos.

In her video pitch, Miss Bowser said it would make sense for the company to have “a West Coast Washington and an East Coast Washington,” and pointed out that Mr. Bezos already owns a local newspaper, The Washington Post.

“Alexa, where is the most interesting company in the world going to locate?” she asks her Amazon voice-controlled personal-assistant device, which replies, “Obviously, Washington, D.C.

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