Dallas makes Amazon’s top 20 list for HQ2, and here’s why – Dallas Business Journal

Dallas-Fort Worth has been named on the short list for Amazon’s second North American headquarters, joining 19 other metro areas, including Austin, in the chase for the online retail behemoth.

Fast-growing Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) will work with each of the 20 finalists to dive deeper into their proposals and request and evaluate additional information before making its final selection by the end of this year, the Seattle-based company said in a news release today.

Houston, which was also a candidate, did not make the list of finalists. Atlanta, Chicago, Miami, Pittsburgh, Toronto and Washington, D.C., are also still in the running. (See full list, below.)

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings tweeted that the city is "thrilled to be in the next round of @amazon HQ2 process."

"There’s much work left to be done, but I want to thank my fellow mayors, @DRChamber, @FTWChamber and all our citizens for making @CityOfDallas and DFW such a desirable place to be!" Rawlings posted.

The Dallas Regional Chamber and Fort Worth Chamber submitted the DFW region’s bid to Amazon in September.

“We’re proud of the great work done by our regional cities and leaders,” said Mike Rosa, senior vice president of economic development at the Dallas Regional Chamber. “We’re looking forward to the next steps and are in direct contact with Amazon to begin that process.”

Amazon will employ 50,000 people with an average salary of $100,000 or more at the new campus it is calling HQ2. The company plans $5 billion in infrastructure investments over 8 million square feet, and the first buildings are scheduled to open in 2019.

Amazon received 238 applications from local officials in the U.S., Canada and Mexico after putting the site selection process up for grabs in an unusually public way.

Although Dallas was listed by Amazon as a finalist, the precise location of a potential corporate site within the North Texas region isn’t known yet.

The Dallas Regional and Fort Worth chambers did not specify how many locations it forwarded to Seattle-based Amazon, but developers and city officials representing more than 35 sites in over a dozen North Texas cities publicly pitched or otherwise confirmed that their location is on the list. The chambers, cities and state of Texas have also stayed mum on what economic incentives are being dangled in the attempt to reel in Amazon, although some out-of-state metro areas have released their incentive offers.

North Texas’ proposed sites include downtown Dallas skyscrapers, Victory Park near the American Airlines Center, multiple locations in Collin County, one on the University of Texas at Dallas campus, and another at the station of the planned bullet train connecting Dallas and Houston. In Tarrant County, potential sites include a future Trinity River development north of downtown Fort Worth, and 800 acres in Grapevine on Dallas Fort Worth International Airport property.

The diversity of options in DFW is “one of the most compelling aspects of our proposal,” said Brandom Gengelbach, executive vice president of economic development for the Fort Worth Chamber.

“We are excited that Amazon has determined that our region’s proposal merits additional consideration, and we’re confident that upon further inspection Amazon will soon realize all of the reasons why this region has been a magnet for corporate headquarters locations in recent years,” Gengelbach said.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott applauded Amazon’s decision in a statement that touted the Lone Star state as “the land of opportunity.”

“I am thrilled to see that Amazon has included both Austin and Dallas as finalists for its forthcoming HQ2,” Abbott’s statement reads. “Texas is a hotbed for the tech industry, and both Austin and Dallas have proven themselves to be among the most sought after locations for companies looking to grow and thrive.”

Amazon didn’t say exactly what factors led them to choose Dallas or any of the other cities on the list.

“Getting from 238 to 20 was very tough — all the proposals showed tremendous enthusiasm and creativity,” Holly Sullivan, of Amazon’s public policy department, said in a statement Thursday. "Through this process we learned about many new communities across North America that we will consider as locations for future infrastructure investment and job creation."

Abbott said companies like Amazon appreciate Texas’ workforce and its “low-tax and limited-regulation environment” when making expansion decisions.

“I am confident that the economic advantages of an Amazon expansion in Texas speak for themselves, and make either Austin or Dallas an ideal fit for Amazon’s HQ2,” the governor’s statement says.

In its request for proposals, Amazon sought information about the region’s labor force, wage rates, business environment, population, incentives, fiber connectivity, mass transit availability, crime rates and cost of living. Amazon also asked for proximity of sites to major airports, traffic congestion rankings during peak commuting times, partnerships with higher education institutions and local kindergarten through 12th grade computer science programs.

The submittal from DFW included a secure and custom-built map-based website, for Amazon’s eyes only, that contains both the regional response and individual city responses. The submittal is designed so that Amazon can review both regional and city-specific answers to criteria requirements outlined in its request for proposals.

Many in the DFW business community and even outside the state like DFW’s chances of luring HQ2. A steady stream of Fortune 500 companies have chosen North Texas for headquarters relocations in recent years, including Toyota North America, now based in Plano. The DFW area topped a list of prospective sites for Amazon’s new headquarters, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis, and the region has fared well in similar rankings.

Below is the full list of cities being considered by Amazon, in alphabetical order:

AtlantaAustin, Texas Boston ChicagoColumbus, Ohio DallasDenverIndianapolis Los AngelesMiamiMontgomery County, Maryland Nashville, Tennessee Newark, New Jersey New York CityNorthern Virginia PhiladelphiaPittsburgh Raleigh, North Carolina TorontoWashington D.C.

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