Some of Amazon’s criteria for a new headquarters are straightforward. The Seattle-based online retailer wants a metropolitan area with more than 1 million people, for example. With more than 7 million people, DFW has that one covered with ease.
Amazon wants its second headquarters to be 45 minutes from an international airport, putting most of the DFW area in the running.
Other metrics, like Amazon’s desire for an abundance of tech talent, are harder to gauge. A tech talent gap exists nationwide, but DFW’s tech labor pool is growing, and studies suggest that the North Texas is hanging on to its home-grown talent and attracting tech workers from outside the region.
Amazon wants its site to have access to mass transit, and DFW is hit or miss in this category. On the up side, Dallas Area Rapid Transit is the country’s longest light rail system, stretching more than 90 miles across North Texas. But North Texas is a sprawling place and several of North Texas’ major job centers — Fort Worth, Frisco, McKinney and Arlington are among them — are not part of the DART rail system.
Amazon also wants move-in money in the form of incentives. The company’s RFP suggests types of assistance it will accept — land, site preparation, tax credits/exemptions, relocation grants, workforce grants, utility incentives/grants, and permitting and fee reductions.
The Dallas-Fort Worth area will be competitive by offering state and local incentives, abatements and other methods of sweetening the deal for Amazon, Rosa said. He declined to discuss specific amounts.
"Any time you have a project where the job figures and capital investment ramps up into the billions of dollars, those incentive possibilities grow in proportion to the project," said Mike Rosa, senior vice president of economic development for the Dallas Regional Chamber.
As a reference point, Toyota netted $46.75 million in economic incentives from Texas Enterprise Fund ($40 million) and Plano ($6.75 million) with its consolidation. In general, economic incentives offered in Texas are middle-of-the-pack nationwide, but should be sufficient to close the deal with Amazon if most other considerations match the company’s needs.
As is the case with all companies, Amazon wants a stable and business-friendly environment for its second home, and that’s a category in which the state and region typically shine. That’s a big reason Toyota and other major companies including Liberty Mutual, Kubota Tractor Corp. and Jacobs Engineering continue to move in each year.
MORE CONTENT: THE AMAZON EFFECT
INTERACTIVE U.S. MAP: Tracking Amazon's rapidly expanding footprint across the country.
NORTH TEXAS MAP: Here are the top sites in DFW for Amazon’s proposed HQ2.
AROUND THE COUNTRY: From Miami to Seattle, here’s how Amazon is impacting other cities.
WHY OTHERS FEEL HQ2 IS COMING TO THEIR CITY: The Business Journals have been speaking to experts on the ground to get a local take on why their city was best situated to land HQ2.
ABOUT THIS PROJECT
For the past nine months, The Business Journals and its 40 newsrooms, including the Dallas Business Journal, have made a concerted effort to document the systematic expansion of Amazon.com Inc., from Class A office spaces in the nation's largest cities to former cornfields and barren industrial spaces long abandoned by industries of old.
The company's growth, while massive in scope, as hinged on negotiations with local officials, deals with local real estate developers and tax breaks blessed by local municipalities. In short, it's all local.
This project is both near term and forward looking in scope, and sets off to identify where this Seattle-based company's unrelenting expansion might be headed. It's as much about Amazon's end game as a business entity as it is about the long-lasting effect it is likely to have on America for decades to come.
The Dallas Business Journal is a content partner with WFAA, which also is working to document Amazon’s search for its proposed second headquarters. Watch WFAA’s 10 p.m. broadcast for Jason Wheeler’s report.