Business Incentives at Work: Fox Comes to County, Discovery Consolidates

Fox Broadcasting Company affiliates WTTG and WDCA will move from Northwest D.C. to Bethesda in 2021, bringing more than 200 employees to the County.

Discovery Communications will consolidate 230 technical and creative people, now working on Kennett Street in downtown Silver Spring, to its headquarters on Georgia Avenue in 2018.

Economic development incentives from Montgomery County and the State of Maryland are fostering both moves. The incentives include grants from the County, loans from the State, and tax breaks from both.

Noting that both Fox and Discovery are major media companies, County Executive Ike Leggett said in a prepared statement that the County “is emerging as a media and entertainment capital.”

Also benefiting from State and County business incentives is InfoZen Corp. which as reported earlier, expanded its Bethesda offices on Fernwood Drive to accommodate more than 100 new employees serving federal agency software upgrade needs. ManTech International, a larger, Herndon, Va.-based federal software contractor, announced Sept. 18 that it is acquiring InfoZen for $180 million, with the deal likely to close in October.

James Crawford, ManTech executive director of external communications, said, “The current plan is for InfoZen employees to continue working from their facilities.” ManTech’s press statement said the InfoZen “acquisition adds over 300 highly skilled employees.”

The Fox move is part of the expanded Bethesda downtown plan approved by the County Council several months ago. The current 163,000-square-foot Apex Building will be replaced by a nearly 1 million-square-foot office, residential, retail and parking tower at 7272 Wisconsin Avenue. This new 290-foot-tall building, being developed by Carr Properties, will be among Bethesda’s tallest.

Patrick Paolini, WTTG/WDCA vice president and general manager, said Fox was attracted by the Grade A building, Bethesda’s vibrancy and central location, and the incentives and support from the County and State. Paolini called the planned building “a state-of-the-art facility that will keep us in the heart of the Washington, D.C. metro area, and allow us to better serve our community.”

According to a Maryland Department of Commerce press statement, the Fox outlets are projected to occupy about 57,750 square feet of the planned tower.

On the Discovery Silver Spring consolidation, Gov. Larry Hogan said State and County incentives of $1 million total would supplement the company’s $10 million investment in moving the employees, renovating part of its Georgia Avenue headquarters, and keeping its technology edge.

Discovery, founded in Bethesda in 1985, moved to Silver Spring in 2003. Leggett noted that the company “has been a cornerstone in the revitalization of downtown Silver Spring.”

While, as recently reported, Discovery is planning to acquire the Scripps Networks, which includes cable TV channels such as HGTV, Food Network and Travel Channel, Discovery said in a press statement that the facilities consolidation and “the negotiations with the state and county [on the business incentives] are unrelated to and predated the Scripps transaction, which is not expected to close until early 2018. No decisions have been made related to integration of the two companies.”

Discovery has 1,300 full-time employees in Maryland.



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