Lawmakers in Baltimore County will decide tonight whether to formally back a $2 million loan for Amazon to build a new distribution center in Sparrows Point.
The resolution‘s passage is a required step for the State of Maryland to extend a $2.2 million conditional loan offer to Amazon. The bill text says it would help the e-commerce giant with “costs associated with the acquisition, construction, leasehold improvements, site improvements, infrastructure improvements, purchase of equipment and other assets.”
Amazon, in turn, would bring as many as 1,500 new jobs to Sparrows Point by opening a second distribution center in the area, to go with the existing one on Broening Highway in Southeast Baltimore. The company is also building one up in Cecil County.
If the resolution passes and Amazon agrees to take the money, it would be a major win for Tradepoint Atlantic, the rebranded area of Southeast Baltimore County that once housed the iconic Bethlehem Steel plant.
While that facility closed down in 2012, the county has since drawn new tenants to the area, including a Harley Davidson dealership and motorcycle academy and a 300,000-square-foot FedEx Ground distribution center. Under Armour is also building a new distribution center there that’s supposed to open sometime next year.
In addition to lots of open industrially zoned space, Tradepoint Atlantic has a deep-water port and access to freight rail lines, which developers and officials are hoping can draw enough enterprise to make it a thriving business hub once again.
The Sun’s Pamela Wood reported last week that county officials have said they’re in the “final phase” of negotiations with Amazon for the Sparrows Point distribution center. (Company officials from Tradepoint Atlantic and Amazon have stayed mum on any announcement of a deal.) There would be another $200,000 in state money to go with the $2 million mentioned in the council resolution, Wood reports.
Baltimore County Council members will vote on the resolution tonight at 6 p.m.
A quick reminder: All of this is separate from Amazon’s ongoing continental search for the future site of “HQ2,” a second North American hub for the company to complement its original Seattle headquarters. Maryland lawmakers, developers and other fans of big business have been competing for the corporate giant’s attention since the call for proposals was announced last month.
While leaders in Prince George’s County and Howard County are touting their own sites for HQ2 to compete with Port Covington in South Baltimore, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz has already backed Kevin Plank’s development as the ideal spot. Gov. Larry Hogan is also banking on Port Covington, a rare point of agreement for him and Kamenetz.
Cities’ proposals for HQ2 are due Oct. 19.