CI VIEW: Amazon’s Jeff Bezos to pick Baltimore for Amazon HQ2 in game changing beauty contest

BALTIMORE/WASHINGTON, DC (BBN) – Amazon.com INC, (NASDAQ:AMZN) founder and CEO Jeff Bezos will almost certainly pick the City of Baltimore for its planned second headquarters notwithstanding its nationwide beauty contest.

[Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos filmed by Capitol Intelligence/BBN using CI Glass ahead of US CEO Summit with Indian PM Narendra Modi ahead of Oval Office meeting President Donald Trump. The Willard Hotel in Washington DC. June 24, 2017]

According to Amazon’s pitch document, the new Amazon headquarters would create 93,000 direct and indirect jobs; a capital investment of USD 3.1bn; and an estimated 233,000 annual hotel nights by Amazon employees.

Even as US cities such as Detroit, Chicago/St. Louis, Cleveland scramble with their own AmazonHQ2 proposals, Baltimore’s strategic location combined with dynamic political leadership of Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan all but guarantees Amazon will pick the Charm City for its new headquarters.

[Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh speaks with Capitol Intelligence/BBN using CI Glass on attracting foreign direct investment at The Atlantic The Renewal Summit in Washington, DC. March 30, 2017]

Baltimore is unique for having the most efficient ports in the United States and its considerable economic power of being home to giant asset managers such as Legg Mason and the US headquarters of Amsterdam-based Aegon NV (NYSE:AEG) unit TransAmerica Corporation.

In fact, Amazon already operates ones of its largest logistic operations at the Port of Baltimore. The Port of Baltimore is one of the few United States ports built to handle the extra-large Panamex cargo ships built specifically for the expansion of the Panama Canal.

Governor Hogan — a pro-business moderate Republican and owner of the based Hogan Companies real estate group — ultimate ambition is to snag a Fortune 100 company for Baltimore, an ambition shared by Baltimore’s Catherine Pugh.

[US Senator Chris Van Hollen speaks to Capitol Intelligence/BBN using CI Glass on President Donald Trump proposed USD 1 trln infrastructure fund at Port of Baltimore news conference in Baltimore. Maryland. February 21, 2017]

Hogan and Pugh have already identified the Port Covington area in Baltimore currently under development by Under Armour (NYSE: UAA) founder and CEO Kevin Plank though Plank Industries real estate arm headed by Tom Geddes for the new Amazon headquarters.

The Port Covington already won some USD 660m in tax incentives from the previous administration of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.  Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS) CEO Lloyd Blankfein – who counts as his former colleagues US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Economic Council Director Gary D. Cohn — is investing USD 233m into the development.IMG_20170802_1230427

Baltimore also makes sense for Amazon as the city is only about 45 minutes away from Bezos defacto second home, Washington DC, where Amazon CEO Bezos’s owns the Washington Post and frequently lobbies Congress and the administration for his NASA and US Defense Department dependent Kent, Washington-based Blue Origin space business.

Amazon decision to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) — a mechanism normally used by federal and local government authorities – is a game changer for its requirement that “community diversity” be included in any bid.

Rushern L. Baker III, the County Executive of Prince George’s County Maryland, said the inclusion of a diversity clause was one of the reasons he decided to make a competing bid for the Amazon second headquarters and offer up four potential sites located in Greenbelt, College Park and New Carrollton.

[Prince George’s County, Maryland County Executive Rushern L. Baker III filmed by Capitol Intelligence/BBN using CI Glass with PG EDC CEO Jim Coleman on PG County bid for Amazon.com, Inc. second headquarters, Upper Marlboro, Maryland. September 19, 2017]

Baker, a former Military lawyer, has single handily turned around Prince George’s County into the number one US county or region for economic growth.

Baker was instrumental in the building of the USD 1.4 bn MGM Resorts Casino at National Harbor and pushing through America’s biggest public-private partnership, the USD 5.6bn Purple Line light railway connecting Prince George’s County to Montgomery County, Maryland.rendering1-lrg.jpg MGM

Baker said the decision by Amazon to include a “diversity requirement” will open the eyes of the CEOs of other major companies — be they Fortune 100 or large foreign multinational group — to the dynamic economic growth experienced by companies who choose to locate formerly economically depressed areas of the United States.

Baker, who recently returned from one of his multiple trade missions (South Korea/China) to Asia — is seemingly content with the knowledge whether or not Prince George’s County wins the Amazon HQ2, the fastest growing county will ultimately snag a major corporate HQ be it Korea’s Samsung or another major foreign or Fortune 500 corporation.

Jeff Bezos’s decision to include a diversity clause for the location of its second headquarters was music to the ears to members of the Congressional Black Caucus during the annual Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) Annual Legislative Conference in Washington, DC.

[Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Board Chair Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas ) and CBCF Honorary Co-Chair US. Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Ill) filmed by CI Glass answering a question from Capitol Intelligence/BBN on Amazon planned second headquarters September 20, 2017]

CBCF Chair, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), said Amazon’s recognition of diversity in HQ2 bid is fruit of the Congressional Black Caucus long-term efforts to make Silicon Valley aware of dynamism and talent within the African-American community.

“The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation equals innovation. We along with the Congressional Black Caucus were early visitors to Silicon Valley to talk about the crisis in diversity,” Congresswoman Jackson Lee said. “At the same time, as the economy has been driven by technology, we are very keen to ensure that there is diversity at all levels.”

Bezos is by far the leader of the US tech/Silicon Valley crowd in understanding that smart politics is smart business. By choosing Baltimore, Amazon wins the powerful Congressional Black Caucus and the White House on top of considerable tax incentives and economic development grants.

By PK Semler in Washington DC and Baltimore, Maryland. For more information please call +1-202-549-3399 or email pks@capitolintelgroup.com

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