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Maryland hopes end of NYC deal could mean more Amazon facilities

New York City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, center, speaks during a conference in Gordon Triangle Park in the Queens borough of New York, following Amazon's announcement it would abandon its proposed headquarters for the area, Thursday Feb. 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

WASHINGTON — With the news that Amazon is scrapping its plans to build a headquarters in New York, Maryland seems poised to try again to lure the online retail giant to the state.

Shortly after the Thursday announcement, Gov. Larry Hogan said that his administration has had discussions with and is planning to meet with Amazon on the topic of moving into Maryland.

“We have been in contact with Amazon and anticipate a meeting,” said Shareese Churchill, a spokeswoman for the governor.

Amazon said it doesn’t intend to reopen the HQ2 search, but it doesn’t appear that is preventing state and local lawmakers from reaching out to the company. In fact, calls to the company were already taking place as soon as rumors of Amazon making an about-face in New York surfaced.

“When I saw that they were having trouble in New York, I reached out to our economic development officials and asked them to reach out to Amazon,” said Hans Riemer, at-large-council member for the Montgomery County Council.

Montgomery County was on the short list for an Amazon headquarters search before Northern Virginia was awarded the area’s HQ2 campus. Riemer said that while Maryland might not see another headquarters to take the place of the planned New York campus, there is good reason for the county and state to keep the dialogue open with Amazon.

“They’ll not be expanding in New York, so I think the county can capture some opportunities here,” Riemer said.

Riemer believes if Amazon expands even more into the area, it could result in too many jobs for the newly branded “National Landing” in Northern Virginia to absorb.

“I think they’re too big for one location,” Riemer said.

In Prince George’s County, Council Member At-Large Mel Franklin thinks Amazon can give his county a fresh look.

Even if it doesn’t build another headquarters, Franklin and Riemer both hope the end of the New York plan could mean the company jumps quickly into a second stage of building smaller sites around the region.

“Amazon had huge plans for the New York City area, there’s no way that those plans just disappear into thin air,” Franklin said.

Franklin touted possible locations in the county, which include an area near the University of Maryland College Park campus called the “Discovery District.”

Riemer said in addition to possible sites along Rockville Pike and the Metro’s Red Line, other areas of the county are also on the table if Amazon wants to talk.

In New York, many condemned the tax incentives offered to Amazon. To lure it to Maryland in any capacity, it’s expected that an incentive offer will be necessary.

Maryland’s $8.5 billion incentive package for HQ2, according to Riemer, would only have come from new tax revenue generated by Amazon in the state and county.

“A lot of incentives that the state and the county offered were infrastructure, transportation infrastructure mostly, that would have benefited all Montgomery County residents,” he said.

Riemer believes the last package was never a bad deal for taxpayers, and he expects any possible new deal to be the same.

“We need private sector growth. It’s a great opportunity, and let’s see if we can make something out of it,” Riemer said.

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