Baltimore was among the 238 cities that made a play for Amazon’s second headquarters. The e-commerce giant is promising 50,000 new jobs and $5 billion in capital investment.
Baltimore will not win that economic jackpot but we’re learning more as to why. City officials had an exit call with Amazon executives after learning their bid was unsuccessful. They were not given an explicit reason as to why they were not chosen but they gathered that they may have fallen short in one category.
What they thought was their ace in the hole may not have been a winning hand to Amazon.
“Port Covington, shovel-ready to us was boom the best proposal ever,” said Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh in a press conference in January following news that the City did not make the top 20 list.
Amazon was looking for a full house. From feedback given, the online retailer put more emphasis on workforce than worksite implying Baltimore was not flush with the necessary tech talent.
“They mentioned that we need to continue to work on growing tech talent and focusing on our STEM education,” said Bill Cole, president and CEO of the Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC) in a briefing on Wednesday at City Garage.
BDC along with Sagamore Development Co. crafted the innovative pitch that featured a magazine-style proposal with Amazon Fire tablet that had a short video showcasing a “day in the life” of a Port Covington professional. The proposal is being made public online for one-week. To view it, click here.
Cole said Amazon didn’t specifically say why Baltimore did not make the top 20, but he didn’t get the impression that it was the City's crime rate or their incentives package.
The City did not offer $1 more than what was already approved for the Port Covington project.
“There’s no additional incentive. The Port Covington TIF that was approved a year and a half ago, we believe was a very generous start for a city contribution to a project of this size and we believe that we didn’t need to go any further than that,” said Cole.
No bells and whistles like some other cities.
As far as the state’s contribution, Governor Larry Hogan has said he’s willing to offer a $5 billion dollar incentive package.
The state’s offer in Baltimore’s proposal was redacted. With Montgomery County still in the running the Maryland Department of Commerce doesn’t want to show their hand just yet.
In a statement, Allison Mayer, the agency’s spokesperson wrote:
“This is still a very active economic development project for the state, which we are aggressively competing to win, and any further details will be released at a time that is strategically advantageous to the state.”
Cole said he was disappointed that Amazon didn’t choose Baltimore but that they’re also working to support their once rival.
“I don’t think we could’ve done anything differently. I wish we could’ve made the top 20. I certainly was disappointed the day we found out but we’re going to use this work product and this amazing work we put in in five weeks to chase other opportunities,” said Cole.
Amazon is expected to announce the winning city sometime this year. Washington D.C. and northern Virginia are also still in the running.