Maryland’s leaders are rightfully looking for ways to build the economy and bring jobs to the state. Online retail is booming and Amazon has a market share larger than every retailer combined in the United States. Why not focus on bringing a mammoth retailer to town?

Taxpayers have already funded more than $63.3 million in tax subsidies for Amazon distribution centers in Maryland. All this to employ an estimated 3,200 Marylanders. That’s paying Amazon $19,781 per job.

Yet, brick and mortar retailers create far more jobs and are anchors in our communities. From mom-and-pop shops to large retail chains, these stores provide neighborhood stabilization, philanthropy, and much-needed tax revenue, all without significant tax subsidies. Local retailers are at risk.

Online-only retailers such as Amazon threaten to diminish the vitality of the local marketplace and replace innumerable local retail jobs with minimal warehouse positions. Tax subsidies for Amazon’s distribution centers are undermining brick and mortar stores in Maryland and retailers across the country.

Some would argue that Amazon is now collecting sales tax in 45 states, and there is parity between the online giant and your local store. This argument falls dramatically short when one considers that over two million of the sellers who use Amazon as a platform for their own sales do not collect sales tax.

The revenue from those sellers makes up more than 40 percent of Amazon’s sales.

Despite introducing legislation to level the playing field by mandating out of state e-retailers play by the same rules and collect sales tax, Maryland’s lawmakers have not acted. This has undermined and diminished local retailers.

The retail and retail food sectors in Maryland employ over 750,000 Marylanders directly and indirectly. Mom and pop stores, who often need support with façade improvements, marketing, sidewalks and signage are left hanging.

How many local improvements could have been made with the tens of millions given to a single online giant? “Shop local” shouldn’t be a slogan just for the holidays. Maryland’s lawmakers have the opportunity — and obligation — to show their commitment to the retailers that make our communities vibrant marketplaces.

Amazon shouldn’t be given advantages that businesses grown in Maryland aren’t given and incentives that aren’t available to all businesses. Our state needs the jobs brought by brick and mortar retail businesses and the tax revenue to pay for the things we all care about. Chasing Amazon doesn’t help Maryland business or Maryland residents.

Cailey Locklair Tolle, president

Maryland Retailers Association

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