COLLEGE PARK- “Maryland is FBI” is the battle cry of state leaders who are pushing to bring the FBI headquarters to Prince George’s County. The state has pushed for the federal agency to move its headquarters since 2011 when the agency first announced it was looking to move from its current Hoover Building on Pennsylvania Ave. in northwest D.C. to a site in the district, Maryland, or Virginia.
Maryland’s proposed site is 80 acres of space in Greenbelt near the metro station. The state has steep competition with Virginia, which is proposing a space in Springfield near the Franconia-Springfield Metro. The federal agency said it has received nearly 40 applications since December 2013.
“Maryland stands for FBI and FBI stands for Fully Behind It and the ‘it’ is why we are here,” said Dr. Wallace Loh, president of University of Maryland.
Dr. Loh said the university is one of the main contributors of criminology, terrorism, computer forensics, and foreign language graduates to the FBI in the country.
The state has 300,000 federal employees with more than 70,000 living in Montgomery County. If the FBI moves to Maryland, 11,000 employees will move with it, along with $180 million in annual tax revenue for PG County and $168 million in yearly costs to rent the building from the state.
Maryland currently houses 20 federal agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration in White Oak, the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency in Silver Spring with five other state agencies calling Montgomery County home. PG County has five federal agencies in the county, including IRS in New Carrollton and the Census Bureau in Suitland. The largest is the Social Security Agency in Woodlawn with 11,000 employees in house and the NIH in Bethesda with 18,000 employees.
“Any big opportunity, like this opportunity, has to be looked at not only as a security imperative but also as an economic opportunity. These things only happen through collaboration and the state and the county working together. From the state stand point, we too are all in. On one of the sites that’s already been mentioned, we’ve already approved feasibility studies, we’ve already approved some security easements and with that we are looking forward to doing absolutely anything it takes when the federal government decides where they want to come in Prince George’s County,” said Governor Martin O’Malley.
Montgomery County also proposed several sites for the new headquarters. In 2012, Montgomery County beat out Prince George’s County for a $450 million lease for the Federal Health and Human Services agency, which chose to remain in Rockville.
David S. Iannucci, of the Economic Development Corporation of PG County said he was disappointed Montgomery County chose to submit bids for the property as the state believed PG County would be the Maryland only county vying for the contract. In 2013, after pressure from the state and PG County, Montgomery County chose to withdraw its bid.
The FBI said it will purchase a site in 2015.