Just when Dallas thought it was a runner-up in the Amazon HQ2 beauty pageant, the city might have a second shot at the crown.
Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) reportedly is rethinking its plans to bring a second headquarters and 25,000 jobs to Long Island City in Queens after local activists and state lawmakers voiced strong objection to the company's deal with New York.
The Dallas Regional Chamber, which championed North Texas’ campaign to attract HQ2, declined to comment on the latest wrinkle in what has been a high-profile and sometimes emotional search. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, who took the lead in the attempt to lure the e-commerce giant, also declined when reached by the Dallas Business Journal.
But at least one commercial real estate firm thinks the city should take another shot at HQ2 if the project is back in play.
“I would imagine that most of the state of Texas, including Dallas, would still welcome them with open arms,” said Grant Pruitt, president and managing director of Whitebox Real Estate. "Why wouldn’t you? It’d still be great for the city of Dallas. If New York doesn’t want them, we’ll take them.”
Dallas was officially rejected in November in favor of two East Coast locations for Amazon’s highly publicized second headquarters project known as HQ2.
“We competed hard, we competed well, but we did not succeed,” Rawlings said at the time.
Before that, Dallas made Amazon’s list of 20 finalist cities and had been named in national media reports as a front-runner for what initially was pitched as a single project involving
50,000 high-paying jobs. Dallas also was among the handful of cities that received a second visit by Amazon officials in August.
Amazon told local officials, including Rawlings, that lack of technology talent stemming from shortcomings in the educational pipeline were the chief reason the region didn’t win HQ2.
“We like to win, and we’re used to winning,” Mike Rosa, senior vice president of Economic Development for the regional chamber, said at the time. “While we are disappointed, we understand Amazon’s decision is one they believe is best for their company at this time.”
Dallas had offered Amazon roughly $600 million in local incentives and another $600 million in state incentive to plant HQ2 in the city. That compares to roughly $3 billion offered by New York City and state, and a combined state-local incentive of about $1.5 billion in northern Virginia.
Pruitt said the HQ2 questions about the ability to find ample talent in DFW have been resolved with the splitting of the project.
“You’re not going to exhaust our labor pool, especially with half the requirement,” he said. “It was 50,000, now it’s 25,000. That’s a lot of jobs, but in a metroplex of almost 8 million people, 25,000 jobs isn’t that big. We could absorb that.”
It's unclear what Amazon might do if the New York project falls through. It could add a smaller number of jobs in New York or pick another location on its list to get some or all of the jobs originally headed for New York.
Amazon has not leased or purchased office space for the project in New York, making it easy to withdraw its commitment, according to a report in the Washington Post, which broke the story. No specific plans to abandon New York have been made, and it is possible that Amazon could be using the threat to withdraw to put pressure on New York officials, the report notes.
The resistance in New York contrasts with the welcome Amazon has received in Virginia from officials, where the governor signed a law on Tuesday authorizing up to $750 million in state subsidies for the Arlington headquarters.