After Amazon named Montgomery County a finalist for hosting its second headquarters on Thursday, Maryland Sen. Richard Madaleno (D-Montgomery) called for greater investment in the University System of Maryland to boost his county's bid.
Montgomery County is among 20 top contenders for Amazon's HQ2 — along with areas nationwide including New York City, Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. — and Madaleno proposed a $1 billion increase in funds for the higher education system to attract the electronic commerce company.
"Now is the time to demonstrate Maryland's innovation and creativity: not by simply offering billions in tax incentives which drain needed resources from the state but instead by showing a deep commitment to our greatest resource – our people," Madaleno said in a news release.
Madaleno, who is running for governor in Maryland, announced a plan in September to allocate $1 billion to the University of Maryland to support its academic programs in a way that would attract the company to the area. In October, the system's Board of Regents voted to waive the one-year residency requirement for in-state tuition for those who relocated to Maryland for the potential new Amazon headquarters.
"The system is firmly behind the effort to bring Amazon HQ2 to the state of Maryland," USM spokesman Mike Lurie wrote in a statement.
The Maryland General Assembly already provides $1.35 billion in support for USM — which is made up of 12 colleges, universities and institutions across the state — as part of its $5.3 billion fiscal 2018 operating budget.
The Universities at Shady Grove, a member of the system, is located in Montgomery County, with the University of Maryland, University of Maryland University College and Bowie State University located in nearby Prince George's County, which also submitted a bid to house HQ2.
Prince George's County officials turned in a proposal with help from the City of College Park, but of the 238 total proposals across North America for HQ2 — which Amazon estimates will draw $5 billion in investment and create 50,000 jobs — it didn't make the cut.
After Amazon announced its list of finalists, Gov. Larry Hogan called attention to Maryland's economy. His administration will submit legislation Monday with a $5 billion package of tax incentives and infrastructure improvements to bring Amazon to Montgomery County.
"This is tremendous news for Montgomery County, our entire state, and further proof that Maryland is truly open for business," Hogan wrote in a statement. "Going forward, we will continue working with our partners in Montgomery County […] to ensure that we do everything possible to bring this project home."
Before the finalists were even announced, Hogan had proposed setting aside $10 million in cash to attract the Seattle-based company, which Madaleno has denounced as "corporate welfare."
Amazon said it will make a final selection for its new headquarters by the end of the year.