Incentives will get most of the attention in the competition to land the Marriott headquarters and the 2,000 jobs that come with it. It will cost millions and it’s just the reality of corporate relocations. But the incentive packages will be roughly the same across the three jurisdictions and so the decision will hinge on something else — the business climate.
It seemed to us that Marriott’s CEO, Arne Sorenson, was telegraphing that he wants to be in the District proper when he said, “I think it’s essential we be accessible to Metro and that limits the options. I think as with many other things our younger folks are more inclined to be Metro-accessible and more urban. That doesn’t necessarily mean we will move to downtown Washington, but we will move someplace.”
In our opinion, the District starts out in first place, so the decision hinges on a competitive incentive package and the cost and ease of doing business.
In the amount of time it takes to make this decision, the District’s got to make itself a better, easier and less expensive place to do business.
The best signal the District government can send is a commitment to reform. It should continue the tax reform efforts that were started two years ago, and it can commit to an aggressive effort to reform the way we regulate almost everything, starting with our labor markets. It needs to demonstrate that it is willing to do some of the hard things that are required to make the District a better place to do business.
The door is ajar, we just need to walk through it. Every business and every resident would benefit every day if the District willing to do the things that will make it impossible for Marriott to locate anywhere else.