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Dallas Is Going for Amazon’s Second Headquarters, Says Mayor Rawlings

The company envisions a second headquarters equal in stature to its presence in Seattle, which means somewhere is getting 50,000 jobs.
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Photo by Corbis Images

Amazon is dangling up to 50,000 jobs over North American cities as it searches for a spot for its second headquarters, and the mayor has joined the masses in trying to lure them here.

“There are several places in southern Dallas that we think may meet their needs, and we’ll be presenting those along with other options,” Mayor Mike Rawlings said in an email.

The Seattle-based ultra-conglomerate published a webpage on Thursday with some tantalizing numbers for one lucky municipality: $5 billion in construction investment, “a full equal to our current campus in Seattle,” that’s “expected to create tens of thousands of additional jobs and tens of billions of dollars in additional investment in the surrounding community.” The formal Request for Proposal—an RFP—includes details about the Seattle headquarters: 53,000 “jobs created in the city as a result of Amazon’s direct investments,” $38 billion in investments in the local economy, and $25.7 billion in compensation to Amazon employees. It also includes some preferences:

  • Metro area with more than 1 million people
  • A “stable and business-friendly” environment
  • An urban area with access to strong technical talent
  • “Communities that think big and creatively when considering locations and real estate options.”

However, in his statement, Rawlings leaves the door open to regionalism, citing the benefits of the “surrounding area.” Here’s the full take:

“We’ve already contacted Amazon to express our interest and have proceeded to their prescribed next step,” Rawlings said. “We will aggressively demonstrate that Dallas and our surrounding area would be the perfect spot for their expansive business needs. Amazon already has an extensive amount of business here. They’ve been good corporate citizens and we look forward to future conversations.”

I’ve reached out to each of the southern Dallas council members for comment and will update if they respond. The whole internet perked up Thursday to write about it. The Washington Post went long about how this could be a political decision as much as it is economic, considering that its breakfast-octopus-eating CEO, Jeff Bezos, has been one of the most outspoken critics of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies. As such, the RFP is open for both Mexico and Canada.

The Dallas Morning News ran down all of Bezos’ Texas connections—the recent purchase of Austin’s Whole Foods, the wind farm in West Texas, the new six fulfillment centers throughout North Texas—and declared that it “could give Texas an edge.” The Dallas Regional Chamber is apparently preparing a proposal.

However the city decides to argue its point, the bids are due October 19 and Amazon will announce its choice next year. It’s hard to think about a project this size without ruminating on the Inland Port, southern Dallas’ hope of becoming an international logistics hub, lost to Fort Worth’s Alliance development after political maneuvering by Commissioner John Wiley Price sent its development west. That would’ve brought 65,000 jobs.

Amazon is hardly the same beast. It’s the rare tech company that continues to rely on direct employees, the result of its resource-heavy logistics operations. The jobs, as the RFP indicates, are high-paying, six figures at least. They’re technical. They want “strong local and regional talent—particularly in software development and related fields.”

From the RFP: “The Project includes significant employment requirements at the threshold compensation levels described herein and with corresponding educational attainment of the available workforce. The Project must be sufficiently close to a significant population center, such that it can fill the 50,000 estimated jobs that will be required over multiple years. A highly educated labor pool is critical and a strong university system is required.”

Amazon has some desires that South Dallas sounds ripe for: access to freeways and airports and rail lines. It wants “shovel-ready greenfield sites.” And Red Bird Mall’s redo, when it comes, will focus on incubating the type of technology jobs called for in the RFP. UNT Dallas has a budding outpost in the area, and the tech-focused University of Texas at Dallas has a more mature pipeline of new graduates a couple dozen miles up Central Expressway.

But all this is speculation anyhow. All we know for sure is that Dallas is going for it.

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