No better time for Amazon HQ2 to come to Baltimore
September 29, 2017
When considering where to expand your business, location is everything. It’s even more important for an organization that’s working to make the world seem smaller and increasingly interconnected, an institution whose brand is built on service and meeting the needs of each individual customer.
So it’s no wonder that in 1852 when the Society of Jesus was trying to identify the next site for a college, the Jesuits selected Baltimore. They had already opened colleges in other cities—including in Washington, D.C.—but the people, the culture, the history of this city was ripe for the opportunities that a Jesuit college would bring.
Today, 165 years later, Amazon is poised to choose the location of its next headquarters, and Baltimore is on the list. And, although this city is not the same place it was when the Jesuits first opened what was then Loyola College’s doors downtown, it still offers an ideal setting for Amazon—or, indeed, any corporation with a vision, a commitment to the greater community, and the drive to succeed.
When you visit downtown Baltimore, you can feel the anticipation. The residents of this city—and our students and graduates—are looking toward the future with optimism, excitement, curiosity, and determination. Baltimore has a burgeoning technology sector. It’s second-to-none in biohealth. It has an expanding culinary and cultural scene, growing, affordable neighborhoods ideal for young families and professionals, and fertile ground to start a business. The rich soil of Baltimore has been tilled—and it’s ripe for innovation.
Amazon would be joining our city at just the right moment.
By opening its headquarters in Baltimore, Amazon would have the extraordinary opportunity to be part of that next transformative step for Baltimore, a true urban city that is both historic and culturally rich. With its HQ2 in Port Covington, Amazon could become one of the authors of this compelling and exciting story for Baltimore, for a diverse community with so much to offer.
Those of us who call Baltimore home know our city is different. It’s a city defined by big dreams and bold action. Whether manufacturing that first running shoe prototype, launching a nonprofit for at-risk youth, or pitching ideas to an investor, the people of Baltimore are inspired, connected, and successful.
A veritable mecca of arts, design, and technology, Baltimore boasts makerspaces where imagination becomes reality. Baltimore companies on the rise include software makers, cloud hosting services, marketing firms, and manufacturers of items such as crystalized citrus and custom promotional products—and many have doubled or tripled in size in just the last three years. Baltimore is also home to a number of business incubators.
The greater Baltimore area is strengthened by a collaborative, interconnected business community—a community many our students serve through employment and internships. The faculty and students in Loyola’s Sellinger School of Business and Management benefit from the dynamic business community and also contribute to bolstering businesses in the area, particularly some of the small, independent businesses closest to our Evergreen campus in Baltimore. They lend their ethical expertise, their entrepreneurial spirit, and their deep understanding of business, finance, and marketing to those area business owners. And the education they receive in return is invaluable.
In our current strategic plan, Loyola is embracing an exciting new vision: Loyola University Maryland, anchored in Baltimore, will be a leading national liberal arts university in the Jesuit, Catholic tradition. Loyola is not alone in its commitment to this city. This thriving college town is strengthened by innovative institutions that are anchored in this city, including some of the nation’s finest institutions of higher education.
Baltimore is ideally located on the East Coast corridor, well-positioned for growth, ready for the next big step forward in its history. There’s an energy, an excitement, a sense of newness that residents can feel—particularly our students. And the people of Baltimore believe in our city—all it is today, and all it will be tomorrow. No wonder so many of our Loyola graduates—about 40 percent—make Baltimore their home after graduation.
Before Amazon decides where to plant its roots, its leaders should take a close look at all Baltimore offers to Amazon, and all Amazon can offer to Baltimore. Location may be important. An organization that is known for same-day shipping should recognize something even more critical—timing. And perhaps not since 1852 has there been a better time to invest in the future of this remarkable city.
Rev. Brian F. Linnane, S.J., is the president of Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore.