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County to lose more than 1300 jobs in media relocation

Discovery Communications BuildingDiscovery Communications, a longtime Montgomery County-based corporation which currently employs 1,300 workers, announced Tuesday it will move its corporate headquarters from Silver Spring to New York after months of negotiations with County officials failed.

Discovery Communications President and CEO David Zaslav announced Tuesday the company will likely move from its headquarters located in downtown Silver Spring to New York sometime in the second half of 2019.

“The media industry is rapidly evolving, increasingly global, more consumer focused and more multi-platform and Discovery must evolve with it,” Zaslav said in a statement. “The decision to move our global headquarters from its founding home is one we do not make lightly. We remain unwavering in our support of the Maryland and Greater Washington, DC area and we thank the leadership of the State of Maryland, Montgomery County and, most importantly, our employees for their cooperation and understanding as we make this important next step for the long-term success of Discovery.”

County Executive Isaiah “Ike” Leggett said Discovery’s departure will be a big blow to the County, with 1,300 jobs now being moved to New York.

“When you lose that number of jobs and that number of employees and the salaries, that is not easily replaceable,” Leggett told the Sentinel.

Leggett said he worked with state officials and offered what he said was the largest incentive package the County has ever offered to any business, including the County’s $11 million in subsidies to keep Marriott International’s new headquarters in Bethesda. While Leggett said the County offered tax incentives and “employee stuff,” to Discovery, he declined to comment specifically on the type of offer the County made.

“You don’t want to sugarcoat this, this is a big blow,” said Council member George Leventhal (D-at large).

Leventhal said he was caught by surprise by the announcement of the move to New York, saying it will be hard for the County to find a replacement for Discovery’s large office space in downtown Silver Spring.

“This was a high-level corporate decision, I don't blame anyone in government for this,” Leventhal said.

Discovery Communications, which owns several predominately science and education-themed television channels such as the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, and the Science Channel, first stepped up its corporate headquarters in Silver Spring in 2003. The move comes after Discovery is expected to acquire Scripts Network Interactive, and will set up a national operation headquarters at Scripts’ current location in Knoxville, Tenn.

While Discovery will move its headquarters to New York, the company announced it will keep a smaller contingency in the state, which it will call the Maryland Network Hub, to use for support functions and government locations – though it is unclear where in Maryland it will be located.

@neal_earley

 

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