Kudos to the graphic designers the Dallas Regional Chamber must have paid for this.

Technology

A Splash of Cold Water on Dallas’ Amazon HQ2 Hopes

Dallas-Fort Worth's bid for the tech giant's second headquarters is in. But let's manage our expectations.

Despite some speculation that the fix is in, and that actually landing Amazon’s coveted second headquarters would be more curse than blessing, the Dallas Regional Chamber today took its shot. It took at least 30 shots, in fact, with dozens of sites in North Texas doing their best to woo the tech giant in the Dallas-Fort Worth packaged bid. For better or worse, wherever Jeff Bezos decides to plant the Amazon flag, a city will transform.

We’ve spent a lot of time over the last few weeks weighing the pros and cons of Amazon building its HQ2 here. We’ve also looked at North Texas’ odds. Watching the video the Dallas Regional Chamber submitted with its bid, a much more appealing visual aid than Frisco’s own highlight reel, it feels like a sure thing. How could Amazon say no to promises of tacos and business-friendly innovation, diversity and family, to sweeping shots of skylines and bridges and airplanes?

After watching that video, we may need to splash a little cold water on our hopes. Manage our expectations. A report from Moody’s Analytics, ranking major cities based on the criteria in Amazon’s request for HQ2 proposals, does just that. Dallas does just fine on “business environment,” the study citing the region’s job growth and “generous use of business incentives.” Along with Austin and Nashville, Dallas finishes there among the top three metro areas.

But when it comes to “human capital,” “cost,” “quality of life,” and “transportation,” Dallas disappears from the top of the rankings. Here’s the final top 10 in the report, Dallas conspicuously absent:

It should be noted that, for this report, analysts made a distinction between the Dallas metro area, lumping the city in with Plano and Irving, and Fort Worth, which was grouped with Arlington. Dallas-Plano-Irving came in 34th, Fort Worth-Arlington was ranked 55th. This probably shortchanges the region as a whole, and doesn’t really address the Dallas vs. Fort Worth showdown that could occur if Amazon chooses North Texas.

But it does drive home the same flaws that have been pointed out elsewhere, the problems that may keep a corporate behemoth like Amazon from choosing Dallas as a home. There’s Dallas’ well-documented woes with public transportation and DART. There’s the fact that while tacos and margaritas are among the many charms of living in North Texas, the quality of life here can’t beat those amenities that educated millennials love in places like Seattle and San Francisco. Our major universities, impressive as they might be, can’t match the education infrastructure of somewhere like, say, Boston. While North Texas is home to a growing tech workforce, it still has a long way to go to catch up with the Silicon cities of the country.

Moody’s analysis is just one of many floated since Amazon first announced its Most HQ-Friendly City in North America Pageant. Dallas has been a contender in a number of estimations. Other cities touted as likely destinations, notably Denver, were snubbed in the Moody’s rankings. The only person with any real knowledge of where Amazon will go spent today smashing champagne bottles at a wind farm.

This is where we shrug, throw up our hands, and wait to see what Amazon decides.

Comments

  • ParleyPPratt

    No high-ranking Amazon executive with a family will settle for the DISD.

    • Los_Politico

      DISD is stronger than the Seattle Public Schools and much less disfunctional.

      What urban center should we aspire to be like in your mind?

      • ParleyPPratt

        DFW would certainly be a strong contender as a region, but those executives are moving to Highland Park, Coppell, Southlake, Keller, Colleyville, Frisco, or 50 other places before they settle in DISD (and then they’ll figure out how much the traffic sucks).

        • Los_Politico

          How is that different than Seattle? You realize you sound like you don’t know what you’re talking about?

    • PeterTx52

      and what makes you think they would send any of their children to a public school?

  • Will Comeaux

    I think the quality of life here is comparable to Seattle and San Francisco. For one it’s cheaper and it’s more diverse ethnically and socio-economically which makes for a more interesting environment.

    • Vermont Royster

      ur talkin out ur panties –freshin ur brain down there

  • JamieT

    Above we find the poignant, earnest hopes of a Christopher Guest comedy: “Waiting for Jeff”.

    Jeff Bezos, smashing a champagne bottle atop his naked, lizard-like pate in a paroxysm of sheer Amazonian joy: “No, Carlisle, DFW isn’t exactly Hell, but the asphalt DOES flow downhill in August! Isn’t that vibrant and diverse? Caliente! Denver? PTUI! All those MOUNTAINS, hulking everywhere. As if they might POUNCE at any moment!”

    Wanders away erratically, humming, blood and champagne trickling down his face and obscuring his vision,

    “Oh give me land, lots of land, and the starry skies above
    Don’t fence me in…”

  • James Morgan

    The Dallas-Ft Worth area has more tech workers than Austin (a smaller percentage of the workforce but a larger number b/c of the size of the whole). It also has a more comprehensive transportation system. And a better airport situation. So… no one should pay Moody’s Analytics to do their research. If they go with Austin it will primarily be due to quality of life and Whole Foods being based there.

  • Michael Cory

    Thanks D mag. Everyone at BrandCory had a blast designing the amzn&dfw proposal with the Chamber, the Mayors, CorganMedia and BCG.

  • DubiousBrother

    I’m in Chicagoland and you can forget about Amazon coming to Texas, they think they have it wrapped up here. It may be due to better gangs for the Amazon children to join for the sake of diversity.

  • chasd00

    My bet is on Denver with my #2 spot being somewhere in Northern DFW. The Moody’s report is way off. For example, no rail in North Austin just a bus and the traffic is legendary. Further, the Austin airport is tiny with only a handful of direct flights to Seattle. The only reason to build there is UT but if you were in DFW you still have access to UT graduates but you also have the DFW airport plus all the logistical resources around it. Finally, DFW offers more housing and a more built out, and expanding, rail system. The only thing holding back DFW is how conservative the region is politically when viewed from a blue state company like AMZ.

  • Vermont Royster

    I could give u 12 good reasons why Amazon will NEVER move their HQ’s here but I will only give u ONE and that is CULTURE PPL–Amazon is a West Coast Liberal Corporation and they WILL NEVER move to a Cracker Culture Mentality like Dallas–Count on it—Boston will get the HQ’s, Teck, Bio Tech, Harvard, MIT, Radcliff—IT, mathematics, etc ) Dallas has NADA PPL

    PLUS Boston had cleaner air & less trafic and NO TOLLS run by Spanish Companies…And Boston has liable ppl vs the snot balls of Cracker Dallas…They the Red Sox, patriots, Celtics—Also, Boston doe s NOT have the overpriced tacos and food..Boston pays its PPL alot more than the minimum wage and provides Health Insurance to its employees…and Dallas has the HIGHEST property tax rate per $1,000 in the US-

    There u have ir cracker snobs of Big D

    • ATX

      Great try. But just wrong. You think a company like AMZN WANTS to pay employees more AND pay state income tax? Go crack an economics book. And clearly you haven’t looked at property taxes correctly. Plus winter sucks there.

      • Vermont Royster

        how can u reply to an idiot with his brain in his panties—Dallas is a cracker racist culture and Amazon top mgt is liberal–as I said dallas has nada to offer—my reasons are categorically correct so why repeat it–taxes mean nada to Amazon–they are looking for tech talent, culture and location–Dallas has NADA–get a life or check out–ur an idiot

  • tested123

    The last line of the story that suggests we throw up our hands and wait for Amazon to say something is the most important. The truth is NO ONE outside of a small circle inside Amazon has any idea exactly what they’re looking for. People are guessing. Cities are making pitches. I think the DFW pitch is not bad because it gives Amazon a wide variety of options. On the other hand, if Amazon is looking for something specific, it’s exactly the wrong thing to do. So who knows. Concern over public transportation and the DISD didn’t stop Toyota and many others from moving here in the past few years. However, most companies did choose to locate to Dallas suburbs rather than Dallas itself. You could go round and round and round trying to guess what Amazon is thinking and it really would be an exercise in futility. There is one key thing about this that strikes me as wrong: I don’t believe this is about a second headquarters, it’s about ultimately moving Amazon’s headquarters out of Seattle. I know Amazon has a lot of money, but it seems highly unlikely they’re going to drop $5 billion dollars and hire 50,000 employees for a second “headquarters” campus. That’s what you do for your main headquarters. Seattle is a poorly-run city that seems hell-bent on finding new ways to create business unfriendly policies. It’s no wonder Amazon wants out.

  • Greenleaf

    Ya’ll can go to hell, Amazon is going to Chicago!