Discovery Communications, which helped lead the revitalization of downtown Silver Spring, Maryland, is leaving Montgomery County, selling its headquarters and moving to New York, according to a memo Discovery President and Chief Executive David Zaslav sent to staff, reports WTOP, which added that it’s anticipated “that Discovery, which owns the TV channels Animal Planet, TLC, Investigation Discovery and OWN, will leave its One Discovery Place headquarters building in Silver Spring in 2019. Discovery opened its headquarters in Montgomery County in 2003.

““This was one of the toughest calls we have made in our company’s history, and we do not take it lightly. I felt strongly about sharing the news with all of you as quickly as possible once the decision was finalized,” Zaslav writes in his memo.

“Discovery Communications employs about 1,300 people full-time locally.”

According to The Washington Post, Discovery will keep some departments — government relations, for example — in Maryland, although not necessarily in Silver Spring, and plans to expand its technology hub in Sterling, Va.

The Baltimore Sun reported that the company plans to keep a “network hub” with some network and support jobs and a government relations department. The company did not elaborate on the number of workers or the location of the hub.

It added that Maryland Governor Hogan said Discovery’s departure had nothing to do with taxes or incentives, but was being driven by the consolidation of the media industry.

Capitol Communicator asked Jeb Brown for his reaction to the news about Discovery’s pending move. Brown is an adjunct professor in the University of Maryland’s Smith School’s marketing department where he teaches MBA-level integrated marketing communications. Brown devoted most of his career to building a Bethesda-based agency into the country’s largest privately held marketing communications firm, with 13 offices in the US, more than 1,000 employees and $1 billion in billings. Since selling his firm, Brown has been involved as founder, CEO, advisor and board member in entrepreneurial ventures in advertising, health care, residential construction and real estate development. Brown told us:

“Over the past several years I have met a lot people who have spent part of their careers at Discovery and who ended up in other parts of the creative communications industry. The big point to me is that this will take a lot of jobs out of the market, and that will mean less talent in the market overall.

“The impact on the economic development of Silver Spring and the ripple effects on all the local businesses in the area will be huge, of course. Hopefully, Silver Spring will be able to bounce back and recruit new businesses. But it will be hard for this area to replace as big a creative engine as Discovery has been.”

 

(WTOP photo)

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