Editorial: Building a new Amazon HQ in Baltimore cannot leave Baltimoreans behind

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD | October 26, 2017


Over 200 cities, counties and territories in the United States, Canada and Mexico are currently in a bidding war to become the home of Amazon’s second headquarters, dubbed HQ2. The popular Seattle-based online retail company is currently reviewing proposals, at least two of which came from Baltimore.

One bid is vying for Amazon to build HQ2 at Port Covington, a waterfront development in South Baltimore near Federal Hill. The proposal is backed by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh and other local officials. Executives from Under Armour, the Baltimore-based sports apparel company, have also endorsed this proposal.

Under Armour is looking to construct a new campus of its own at Port Covington, which is owned by Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank’s private firm Sagamore Development Co. Sagamore believes that the new campus could accommodate Amazon’s needs.

Critics have pointed out that this development by the Inner Harbor will widen the divide between the city’s rich and poor and perpetuate socioeconomic segregation. These are legitimate concerns, and we believe in an alternative proposal for HQ2 in Baltimore.

The second Baltimore proposal, submitted by the Old Goucher Community Association, calls for Amazon to build HQ2 in Station North. According to the Baltimore Brew, the Association hopes that Station North’s proximity to several Baltimore colleges, including Hopkins, will be a strong selling point. The Association also notes that Amazon could bring economic opportunities to impoverished areas in West Baltimore.

Having a tech giant so close by would undoubtedly offer students incomparable internship and employment opportunities and could potentially lead to a beneficial partnership between Amazon and Hopkins in the future.

We recognize that if Amazon builds HQ2 in Baltimore it will be extremely beneficial for the student body, but we know that this project will have a greater impact on Baltimore than Hopkins. We can only support HQ2 in Baltimore if it is designed in a socially conscious manner that recognizes the inequalities that exist in our city.

We believe first and foremost that every resident of Baltimore should be taken into consideration if Amazon chooses our city. The headquarters should not benefit one subpopulation at the expense of another as has happened all too often in Baltimore.

We recognize as students that our desires should take a back seat to the interests of citizens who will continue to call the city home after we graduate and likely move elsewhere.

The proposal submitted by the Old Goucher Community Association takes great initiative to consider a more holistic approach, but we are concerned about how such a project could displace current residents.

If Amazon chooses Baltimore to serve as the site for its second headquarters, we hope that the company would work to provide economic opportunities for those Baltimoreans who need it most.

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