Now that’s putting money where your mouth is: Busboys and Poets baron Andy Shallal says he won’t take his bohemian eatery to Montgomery County after the County Council chickened out of asking Congress to fund infrastructure and education needs instead of funneling billions of dollars to defense contractors every year.
Having already planted flags in Arlington and Prince George’s counties, Montgomery was a clear next step for Shallal. And indeed, he tells me he’s been looking at the now-closed Borders Books & Music space in Silver Spring, and has been approached by developers to open in Bethesda. But Shallal, whose outlets have lately been sporting banners encouraging passersby to “IMAGINE A WORLD WITHOUT WAR,” says MoCo has lost its chance. “County residents pay about $2.5 billion in defense spending,” he emails. “Money that is desperately needed for other services.”
The other side of the argument: Defense is huge in Montgomery County, and turning off the federal spigot would take a lot of money out of the region’s economy. MoCo may pay $2.5 billion in taxes to support the military, but Lockheed Martin employs 5,200 people in the county, and they all pay income taxes.
Of course, you can still argue that’s a misallocation of resources. And clearly, the County Council isn’t factoring in the economic impact of Busboys and Poets.