Amazon executive once led Montgomery County's economic development group

The Amazon executive who announced the final 20 locations being considered for the company’s second headquarters once led the business booster group for Montgomery County, one of the contending communities.

Holly Sullivan has been a public policy executive at Amazon since April 2016, but her previous job was president of the Montgomery Business Development Corporation, according to her LinkedIn profile.

The business development group was replaced in 2016 with the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation, according to a county government report. The new corporation helped the county develop its proposal to Amazon.

David Petr, president and CEO of the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation, said he did not believe Sullivan’s position would give the county an advantage.

“I don’t think Holly has an influence either way,” Petr said. “The whole process was handled very ethically.”

An Amazon spokesman, Adam Sedo, said Sullivan was “not available for interviews.”

In the company’s news release about the list of 20 communities, Sullivan is quoted as saying: “Thank you to all 238 communities that submitted proposals. Getting from 238 to 20 was very tough – all the proposals showed tremendous enthusiasm and creativity. Through this process we learned about many new communities across North America that we will consider as locations for future infrastructure investment and job creation.”

Anirban Basu, CEO of the Sage Policy Group, said Sullivan would not be making the decision by herself and that he is certain that anyone at Amazon involved in the process probably hails from one of the 20 communities, which included Los Angeles, New York City, Boston, Atlanta, Washington and Austin.

“I suspect that there are quite a few Amazon folks at the table compiling the list,” Basu said. “I’m quite sure that there might have been Amazon people from Boston and Atlanta and other communities that made the finalist list. There are going to be these types of complex interrelationships.

“The fact of the matter is, to look at it objectively, Montgomery County makes perfect sense,” he added.

Del. Bill Frick, a Montgomery County Democrat, said he knows Sullivan and that her position certainly will not hurt.

“I think it’s a good thing,” Frick said of Sullivan’s position. “She would know the human capital of Montgomery County.”

ddonovan@baltsun.com

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