By Roger Berliner
Montgomery County now is one of the leading contenders to land Amazon. The odds-makers give us an 8-1 shot, ahead of Washington, D.C., and Northern Virginia.
I am all in on this effort. Why? 50,000 new, good paying jobs, jobs that our county’s highly trained workforce is primed to take advantage of. Then toss in $5 billion in direct investments, and $36 billion in net economic benefits over six years. That will be transformative for any community that lands them.
For us, it would forever change the conversation about our county, securing our place as a home to innovation. Not only would Amazon itself diversify our economy and make it less dependent on the federal government, but it would be a magnet for other entrepreneurs and high-tech innovation companies who will inevitably want to be in Amazon’s orbit. That’s a future worth fighting for.
The resources that Amazon will generate will more than pay for the infrastructure needed to accommodate them and the growth that they will prompt. Indeed, Amazon’s priority on transit underscores the urgency of our region to finally provide Metro with the dedicated funding it requires to get back on track.
Fortunately, we have leaders like Sen. Brian Feldman (D) and Del. Marc Korman (D) who have introduced legislation at the state level that will hopefully make that happen. Plus the state has made it clear that it is prepared to make unprecedented additional investments in our county’s infrastructure. I am proud of the role I have played to date in this effort. I have worked hard in three separate ways to advance our cause:
- At the regional level, I proposed to the organization representing the entire region’s elected leadership – the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments – that COG prepare a document to showcase the qualities that make our region exceptionally competitive in this bid. COG agreed to do so, and Amazon liked what it saw. The truth is, if Amazon goes anywhere in our region, the entire metropolitan area will benefit.
- One of the attributes that Amazon is looking for is proximity to transit. I contacted WMATA asking them to allow every jurisdiction to include undeveloped land they own on top of Metro in each of our respective bids. WMATA agreed. That is a big plus for transit oriented development, smart growth, our region … and for our county’s bid.
- I was asked to help facilitate a common vision for our county’s bid, consistent with our master plans, sustainability and transportation infrastructure. Working with our private sector partners and senior county officials, we got there. And that common vision is one of the reasons why we are one of the very top contenders.
There is a lot more work to be done in this competition. We are up against Boston, Austin and other very appealing cities. It is akin to the Super Bowl. We must be at our very best. I will be giving it mine.
Roger Berliner, a Democrat, is a member of the Montgomery County Council and a candidate for county executive.