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Maryland, Baltimore officials pledge pursuit of Amazon ‘HQ2’

(The Daily Record / Maximilian Franz)

Packages move down a conveyor belt at Amazon’s fulfillment center in Baltimore. (The Daily Record / Maximilian Franz)

E-commerce giant Amazon’s announcement it’s seeking a second headquarters location has state and local economic development officials giddy over the possibility of landing a deal bringing $5 billion in investment and roughly 50,000 jobs to the area.

Seattle-based Amazon started soliciting bids from local and state government on Thursday. The new headquarters, or HQ2 as the company has dubbed the project, requires bids from metro areas with at least 1 million residents, a “stable business-friendly environment” and the firm will consider urban or suburban locations that can attract and retain strong technical talent.

“We expect HQ2 to be a full equal to our Seattle headquarters,” Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO, said in a statement. “Amazon HQ2 will bring billions of dollars in up-front and ongoing investments, and tens of thousands of high-paying jobs. We’re excited to find a second home.”

Steve Pennington, Maryland Department of Commerce’s managing director of business and industry sector development, said he became aware of the proposal this morning when a contact from Amazon alerted the state to the opportunity. Despite the quick turnaround, responses to Amazon are due on Oct. 19, Pennington said the state will be ready to pitch Maryland’s advantages.

“We will be very aggressive going after this opportunity,” Pennington said.

Maryland officials hardly are the only ones eager to compete for the retail giant’s second headquarters. Officials across the country spent much of Thursday touting their competitive advantages and vowing to leave no stone unturned – and perhaps no tax incentive untapped – to lure the company.

Amazon already has plans to open a 1.2-million-square-foot fulfillment center in North East and operates another fulfillment center in Baltimore employing roughly 3,000 full-time workers.

Officials in the Baltimore metro area are also gearing up to pursue the possibility of landing Amazon’s second headquarters.

Mayor Catherine Pugh issued a statement and said that she had already met with William H. Cole, president of the Baltimore Development Corp., and emphasized her desire to “pursue this opportunity aggressively to make a compelling case for Baltimore City as its second headquarter location.”

Cole also said the city’s quasi-public economic development agency will emphasize the city’s geographic advantages and Baltimore’s established relationship with the online retailer.

“Baltimore’s strategic location in the Mid-Atlantic and its accessibility via highway, rail, port and air, make us a great fit for Amazon’s second headquarters. Also, we’ve worked with Amazon in the past when they opened their distribution center and they know that we can be a good partner,” Cole said in a statement.

Not to be outdone, suburban Baltimore County also made clear it intends to try and land the deal to be home to the new Amazon headquarters. County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, in a statement announcing the county’s intention to compete, touted Tradepoint Atlantic at Sparrows Point, Greenleigh at Crossroads in Middle River and Spring Grove in Catonsville as potential landing spots for the new headquarters.

The county is already home to major corporations, such as McCormick and Stanley Black & Decker Global Tools and Storage.

“Amazon-we’re on it! This will be a highly competitive process, and Baltimore County is right in the game. In fact, Baltimore County’s economic development director is meeting with state economic development officials this afternoon,” Kamenetz said in a statement.

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