The Montgomery County Council on Tuesday will consider a $500,000 grant to move the Fox TV station operations in Washington, D.C., to Bethesda.
Under the agreement, the county would contribute $500,000 from its Economic Development Fund to incentivize Fox 5 and Fox 5 Plus to relocate from Washington, D.C., to new headquarters at 7272 Wisconsin Ave. in Bethesda.
Both stations are owned by Fox Television, a subsidiary of Fox Corporation, a multi-billion-dollar media conglomerate founded and run by businessman Rupert Murdoch and his family.
In exchange for the grant, Fox is required to have at least 178 full-time employees and maintain its headquarters in the county for a minimum of 10 years. The company must also make capital investments of at least $32.5 million by Dec. 31, 2021.
If the conditions aren’t met, the grant converts to a loan, which Fox would be required to repay with interest.
The council will also vote on a resolution to endorse a $1 million loan to Fox from the state of Maryland — another economic incentive for relocating from D.C to Bethesda.
The state’s loan would be delivered through the Maryland Economic Development Assistance Authority and Fund (MEDAAF), a program that provides financing to businesses in areas where local governments are seeking state assistance to fuel growth.
It requires approval from the County Council and at least 10% in matching funds, which the county would provide through its grant. If the resolution passes, Fox will receive a total of $1.5 million in state and county assistance to relocate.
The resolution was introduced in a council session on Nov. 19 as part of a larger economic development package. County Executive Marc Elrich requested council approval of four MEDAAF loans, including the agreement with Fox.
The council will also vote on providing incentives to:
• Urban One Inc., the largest black-owned broadcasting company in the United States. The state would provide $200,000 and the county would provide $100,000 to help the company add jobs and remain in Silver Spring.
• REGENXBIO, a gene therapy company in Rockville. The state would provide $700,000 and the county would provide $100,000 to help the firm add jobs and remain in Rockville.
• RADA Technologies LLC., a company specializing in defense electronics. The state would provide $300,000 and the county would provide $50,000 to bring the company to Germantown.
At the session on Nov. 19, Council Member Will Jawando framed the grants as “perfectly in line” with an economic development platform council members adopted the week before.
“All of [these companies] have committed, with our investment, to expanding the amount of jobs in the county,” he said. “And as we’re continuing to talk about why Montgomery County is a great place to do business, these are steps that the state has partnered on to help us expand the economy and job market here in the county.”
Leaders at the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation have been communicating with Fox since early 2017, when it first learned the company was interested in relocating, Vice President of Strategy Sarah Miller said.
The county and state presented a joint offer to incentivize the company’s move to Bethesda, she added. As a broadcasting company, Fox was especially appealing in a county where media and communications is an emerging industry.
“It’s important to have a diverse local economy, and broadcasting is something we want to promote,” Miller said in a phone interview on Friday. “And anytime there’s a headquarters involved, you pay extra attention.”
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