Amazon amps up electric car market by leading $700 million Rivian investment

Digital retailer Amazon is leading a $700 million investment in electric carmaker Rivian as founder Jeff Bezos expands into an automobile market being transformed by self-driving technology. Founded by R.J. Scaringe in 2009, Rivian introduced its R1T pickup and R1S sport-utility vehicle at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November. The automobiles, which can travel up to 400 miles on a full charge, include radar and ultrasonic equipment that will help enable so-called Level 3 autonomy on highways, meaning drivers don't have to keep their eyes on the wheel or their eyes on the road. (Wash. Examiner)

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Bid to raise Maryland minimum wage to $15 raises a ruckus

Even before this year’s General Assembly convened, legislative leaders targeted raising Maryland’s minimum wage. Last month, the leadership of both the Senate and the House made it official, including raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour as one of their legislative priorities. Measures now under consideration in both the Senate and the House would raise the minimum wage, now $10.10 per hour, incrementally until it reaches $15 in 2024. After that, the minimum wage would be tied to the consumer price index. The argument is simple: The current minimum is not a living wage, proponents say. (Herald Mail)

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Payless Planing To Close Thousands Of Stores

The shoe retail store, Payless, has said that it plans on closing thousands of its stores across the country. This could be the largest liquidation of any retail store. The announcement from Payless comes less than two years after it had filed for bankruptcy. The store emerged from bankruptcy protection 18 months ago. It reportedly had nearly $400 million in unpaid loans. Payless has been upended by online shopping, with consumers going to places like Amazon. (WJZ-TV)

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Port Covington developer starts seeking city approval for market, apartment buildings

Developers of the proposed $5.5 billion Port Covington project in South Baltimore began seeking design approval Thursday from a city architectural review board for the first set of buildings that could break ground late this year and open in 2021. The first phase will contain two residential buildings with a combined 366 units and space for amenities and retail shops. Another building, the Rye Street Market, is a four-story, mixed-use complex with an open-air market and food hall, shops, offices and event space. (Balt. Sun)

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Tricky time for Amazon: HQ2 reversal, Bezos extortion claims, antitrust scrutiny

It's been a complicated few weeks for Amazon, what with its abrupt pullout from a massive New York City development, extortion claims related to intimate photos taken by its founder Jeff Bezos and increasing antitrust scrutiny in Europe. For now, these events seem unlikely to pose much threat to Amazon's brand or business. But they're indicative of the mounting challenges the e-commerce giant faces as it grows ever larger and more dominant. Amazon's turn in the spotlight is a natural consequence of its prominence in retail, entertainment and internet infrastructure, Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives said. (Balt. Sun)

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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan says he's talked with Amazon officials after company pulls out of New York headquarters

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Thursday that he has talked with Amazon officials following the company's decision to back out of building part of its East Coast headquarters in New York City. Amazon last year selected the New York City borough of Queens and Northern Virginia for the two locations where the e-commerce giant would construct two offices with a total of 50,000 employees as part of its HQ2 project. Maryland — like many other states — scrambled to snare what was being touted as one of the nation’s biggest economic development opportunities. (Balt. Sun)

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A Gaithersburg biotech is raising millions to treat nicotine-related diseases — and help smokers quit

Matt Kalnik wants to make smoking less addictive. His clinical-stage company, Gaithersburg-based Antidote Therapeutics Inc., is developing a drug that would diminish the effects of nicotine in the body — to both treat diseases worsened by nicotine and help smokers quit. The businesses is looking to raise between $5 million and $10 million to run over the next two years and get its lead candidate to clinical trials. (Balt. Bus. Journal)

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Google CEO says it will spend $13B on U.S. expansion this year, including Virginia

Google will spend more than $13 billion on U.S. data centers and offices in 2019, CEO Sundar Pichai said Wednesday, marking "the second year in a row we’ll be growing faster outside of the Bay Area than in it." "These new investments will give us the capacity to hire tens of thousands of employees, and enable the creation of more than 10,000 new construction jobs in Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, Texas, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Virginia," Pichai wrote in a blog post. (Wash. Bus. Journal)

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