CI VIEW: Jeff Bezos faces ire of Detroit’s Gilbert, Baltimore’s Pugh, PG’s Baker for AmazonHQ2 snub

BALTIMORE/WASHINGTON, DC (BBN) — Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is facing the wrath of Detroit’s Quicken Loans Founder and Chairman Dan Gilbert, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh and Prince George’s County County Executive Rushern Baker, III for having dropped America’s most dynamic urban growth markets in favor of suburban Northern Virginia and Montgomery County, Maryland for its planned second headquarters.

[Quicken Loans and Rock Ventures LLC Founder and Chairman Dan Gilbert speaks to Capitol Intelligence/BBN using CI Glass on Amazon Second Headquarters and hosting the Democratic or Republican National Convention in Detroit The Economic Club of Washington, DC. Jan. 30, 2018]

Speaking with Capitol Intelligence/BBN following an interview by Carlyle Group co-Founder and Co-Chairman David Rubenstein at the Economic Club of Washington, DC, Quicken Loans founder and CEO Dan Gilbert said he plans to personally raise the issue with Bezos over Detroit’s exclusion from AmazonHQ2 top twenty shortlist.

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

While Gilbert hopes Bezos will change his mind on Detroit, Gilbert said he is pushing ahead with promoting Detroit for either the Republican or Democratic National Conventions in 2020.  Gilbert successfully brought the Republican National Convention and much needed economic boost to Cleveland, Ohio.

[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]

Jeff Bezos‘ decision to arbitrarily drop Detroit, Baltimore and Prince George’s County from consideration in favor of diversity challenged millennial centers such as Northern Virginia, Montgomery County, Austin, Nashville, Denver, Miami  has triggered a significant backlash and is serving to unite business leaders in the excluded locations.

“The whole AmazonHQ2 beauty contest is obnoxious and the height of arrogance by Bezos,” said an an offical from a unchosen AmazonHQ2 site.  “Anyway, we believe the decision was not made by Bezos but lower level executives.”

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh  like Quicken Loans Dan Gilbert — is determined to do whatever its takes to have Jeff Bezos reconsider the exclusion of the Charm City from AmazonHQ2.

Mayor Pugh, who is determined to bring a economic renaissance to Baltimore, is no snowflake in getting what Baltimore needs.  In fact, Mayor Pugh literally tackled President-elect Donald Trump at the Army & Navy Game held in M&T Stadium with a letter detailing Baltimore’s projects in need of federal infrastructure dollars.

[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.

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.

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.

It is understood that Prince George’s Rushern Baker is holding quiet talks with Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser to make a combined bid so the new AmazonHQ2 would straddle both DC and Prince George’s County at Congressional Heights in the Southeast. Baker has often said there should be no border for economic and cultural ties between Prince George’s County and Washington, DC.

Prince George’s County spokesman Scott L. Peterson declined to comment on the existence of talks for a DC-PG bid.

Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser’s bid to win AmazonHQ2 may be difficult because the city does not have the same financial resources (tax incentives, bonds) as a US State, a member of Bowser’s economic staff said.

[The Carlyle Group Co-Founder and Co-Chairman David Rubenstein and DC Mayor Muriel Bowser filmed by Capitol Intelligence/BBN using CI Glass on Washington DC as the greatest city in the world at Washington Economic Development meeting. December 12, 2017]

However, a joint bid with Prince George’s County would give DC access to Maryland economic development funds, with the new headquarters copying Warren Buffets‘  decision to locate Geico in Chevy Chase, Maryland and Chevy Chase, Northwest DC.

Baltimore native and one of the earliest investors in Jeff Bezos, The Carlyle Group Co-Founder and Co-CEO David Rubenstein will be instrumental in convincing Bezos to locate his second headquarters in the US economic growth corridor of Washington DC, Maryland’s Prince George’s County and Baltimore.

During his interview with Dan Gilbert at the Economic Club, Baltimore native Rubenstein also had Under Armour’s Kevin Plank and DC’s Muriel Bowser as spectators

Jeff Bezos’s original 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.

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[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.”

Amazon’s’ exclusion of three of America’s top economic growth areas with large African-American population as Baltimore, Detroit and PG has seemingly put paid to Bezos’ claim that “diversity” would be a requirement for AmazonHQ2 consideration.

Bezos could differentiate himself as the leader of the US tech/Silicon Valley crowd in understanding that smart politics is smart business. By choosing Baltimore, DC-PG or Detroit, Amazon wins the powerful Congressional Black Caucus and the White House on top of considerable tax incentives and economic development grants.

Baltimore is also distinguishing itself as the cultural center of the United States with the Baltimore Museum of Art upcoming exhibition of Los Angeles native Mark Bradford.

[Los Angeles artist Mark Bradford speaks to Capitol Intelligence/BBN using CI Glass at VIP opening of Art Basel Miami in Miami Beach on December 6, 2017]

Tomorrow is Another Day is the exhibition curated and organized by Baltimore Museum of Art’s Katy Siegel and director Chris Bedford for the the US Pavilion at the world’s most prestigious art gathering, the Venice Biennale.

The exhibition — which is scheduled for fall 2018 — is a perfect instrument for Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh and major Baltimore-based private sector companies such as Legg Mason, Netherlands’ Aegon unit TransAmerica and Under Armour along with artist Mark Bradford to illustrate to Jeff Bezos why Amazon Second Headquarters in Baltimore will lift all boats.

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

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