Incentives will get most of the attention in the competition to land the Marriott headquarters and the 2,000 jobs that come with it. And it will cost millions. It’s an unfortunate reality of corporate relocations. But the incentive packages will be roughly the same from all three jurisdictions and so the decision will hinge on something else — the business climate.
Clearly Marriott’s CEO, Arne Sorenson, was telegraphing that he wants to be in the District 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.”
The only thing that will keep him out of the District has nothing to do with incentives, and everything to do with the cost of doing business in DC.
We would like to see the District government signal that it is intent on making the District a better, easier, and less expensive place to do business. It can do this with a much more aggressive effort at regulatory reform. It can continue the efforts that were started by the tax revision commission. It can show that it’s capable of doing some of the hard things that are required to improve the business climate.
Every business and every resident would benefit if the District does the things that will make it impossible for Marriott to locate anywhere else.