Thursday, October 31, 2019

MoCo misses out on Mitsubishi HQ, relocation expert cites importance of airport access

Montgomery County hasn't attracted a single major corporate headquarters in over twenty years, and Mitsubishi North America won't break that humiliating streak of failure. The Japanese industrial giant's U.S. headquarters has been in sunny California since 1988. After a nationwide search, they've chosen Franklin, Tennessee.

"I’m proud Mitsubishi Motors will call Franklin its U.S. home, and bring 200 high-quality jobs to Middle Tennessee," Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said in a press release announcing the victory. The press release notes that corporate headquarters jobs have grown by 37% in Tennessee since 2013. "Mitsubishi Motors’ decision to relocate its U.S. headquarters from California to Franklin underscores Tennessee’s growing profile as a hub for U.S. and international companies," Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Chair Bob Rolfe said. "Tennessee will continue to actively recruit quality headquarters jobs from higher-cost coastal states, and we are honored Mitsubishi will make this significant investment in Williamson County.”

This is just the latest major corporate HQ contest the Montgomery County Council and economic development officials have either lost, or simply dozed through without even making a bid. One ongoing disadvantage Montgomery has, besides its national reputation as a business-unfriendly jurisdiction with high taxes, is its lack of direct access to Dulles International Airport.

We could have had direct access by now, had our elected officials not canceled the long-planned Potomac River crossing to the Dulles area. John Boyd of corporate relocation firm The Boyd Company reaffirmed the importance of such access in recent comments about Sherwin Williams dissatisfaction with their current Cleveland HQ location, that has spurred them to begin a relocation search.

Boyd's analysis was reported by Cleveland's Fox 8 as follows:

He said air transit is a key factor in site selection. As Cleveland vies to keep the company that employs more than 33,000 people worldwide, Boyd said the region's lack of non-stop flights to markets around the globe is its biggest hurdle.

Cleveland Hopkins International Airport was ranked second-worst among 16 similar-sized airports in the J.D. Power 2019 North America Airport Satisfaction Study. The airport has commissioned a firm to create a new master plan for upgrades.

"Every time there's a major trophy headquarters project, you always think about the usual suspects: Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Houston. Cities with major gateway airports," Boyd said.

Dulles is unmatched in our region for the frequency of flights and variety of international business destinations. It would be so simple to eliminate this major obstacle to economic growth by merely greenlighting the new bridge to Dulles. The Council's stubborn refusal to do so speaks volumes about their radical, fringe ideology, and total lack of competence.


  1. In today's diatribe Dyer contradicts himself with airport access conundrum. WTF?

    1. 2:47: No contradiction; they are two separate issues being covered in the same general topic here. We missed out on Mitsubishi, and one reason we haven't attracted HQs in general is lack of Dulles access.

  2. Why would Mitsubishi even be looking at Montgomery County? No Japanese auto manufacturer would locate their US headquarters east of the Mississippi River, just like no European manufacturer would leave the east coast.

    Tennessee has successfully turned into an auto hub attracting VW, Bridgestone, Nissan, Mitsubishi, but Montgomery will never be competitive in that industry. Maryland, and every other northeastern state, is not right-to-work, which these days automatically puts it out of the running for any auto manufacturer headquarters.

    The county would be better served continuing to attract high-wage life sciences, tech, and contractor jobs.

    1. 2:53: The county isn't attracting many jobs of any kind right now. Fairfax has totally obliterated us in jobs created each year this decade. Nashville is east of the Mississippi.

    2. @ 2:53 - try looking at a map before posting, ya dork.

    3. So... what's the solution here? Build an airport in Rockville? I don't really see why this specific case is being discussed other than to add to Cryer's senseless whining.

    4. 1:39: The solution is simple - build the long-delayed Potomac crossing to Dulles. Problem solved.

  3. I happened to live in Nashville when Nissan built their first plant nearby and that area has become a huge hub for auto manufacturing ever since. The hundred-mile-radius around Nashville has something like half the supply chain. It's huge.

    That said, that's not necessarily a reason why the company HQ would be there. For example, Mercedes was in Montvale NJ although their plant is in Alabama (HQ now moved to Atlanta). BMW's HQ is still in Montvale although their plant (world's biggest BMW plant) is in Spartanburg, SC.

    Linking HQ location with right-to-work is specious.

    I fully agree that lack of a second Potomac crossing is a serious problem and I am disappointed that Hogan is trying to embiggen Beltway+I-270. That will NOT solve the problem. If you want to see what's going to happen, take a drive westbound on I-66 from the beltway for about ten miles.

    p.s. Tennessee is east of the Mississippi.

  4. Dyer might be on to something here. I don't know if MoCo made a play for Mitsubishi, but 2:53 is wrong to suggest that this region is unattractive to motor vehicle company HQs. Case in point: VW recently relocated its North American HQ to Herndon...practically in the Dulles flight path.

    Airport proximity matters. Build that bridge right through the damned Ag Preserve and Trump's VA golf course, I say. MoCo needs it.

  5. We don't need to get caught up in the specifics of this loss. The point is there is loss after loss after loss. Distant states as well as our local neighbors land big companies that boost their tax base and local economies, while we bury our heads in the sand, happy with our bedroom community status and celebrate our welfare programs and sanctuary status. The line between winners and losers is becoming more clear year after year.