Baltimore County Council votes in support of Amazon loan

The Baltimore County Council voted unanimously Monday to support a $2.2 million incentive package designed to help lure an Amazon distribution center to Sparrows Point.

Neither Amazon nor Tradepoint Atlantic, where the distribution center would be built, have commented on the online retail giant’s plans or the incentives.

But Baltimore County officials have said Amazon is in negotiations to build an 855,000-square-foot distribution center with 1,500 employees at the industrial and transportation hub being developed on the site of the former Sparrows Point steel mill.

The state Department of Commerce is offering a $2 million conditional loan to Amazon, and the County Council’s support is a requirement for the loan. Generally, conditional loans are forgiven if the company meets targets such as creating a certain number of jobs. Details of the conditions on this loan have not been made public.

Baltimore County also is offering a $200,000 conditional loan, which represents a required 10 percent match of the state loan.

“Amazon and their 1,500 jobs are a perfect fit for Tradepoint Atlantic,” Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said in a statement. “We are going to do everything we can to land them here.”

Kamenetz, a Democrat, has announced that he is running for governor.

Will Anderson, the county’s director of economic and workforce development, said the county has been working to “aggressively court” the Amazon project.

“We think they are very interested in the site,” he said.

The state Department of Commerce won’t comment on the details of the project, but spokeswoman Karen Glenn Hood said in a statement “the state’s proposed $2 million in funding demonstrates our commitment to continuing to attract jobs to Maryland. Tonight’s action is a positive step in securing this prospective project at Sparrows Point."

Baltimore County Councilman Todd Crandell, a Republican who represents Sparrows Point, said the conditional loan is a good way to help boost economic development and create jobs.

“Sometimes you have to use these tools to get these wins,” Crandell said.

If built, the Sparrows Point Amazon center would be about 7 miles from Amazon’s 1 million-square-foot distribution center at the site of a former GM plant on Broening Highway in Baltimore. Another distribution center is planned for Cecil County.

The Amazon center at Sparrows Point is separate from the company’s nationwide search for a secondary headquarters. Several jurisdictions in Maryland plan to submit bids for the 50,000-employee center, but Baltimore County officials are backing a bid by Port Covington in Baltimore rather than offering up a county location.

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