A large and elite tech workforce appears to be the top consideration for Amazon.com Inc. in its search for a home for its massive second headquarters, according to recent reports.
Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) is telling many cities that didn’t make the cut for the $5 billion, 50,000-worker project dubbed HQ2 that a lack of concentrated technology talent caused them to end up on the loser list, according to Bloomberg BNA.
That could be good news or bad for Dallas-Fort Worth, which remains one of 20 metro areas still in the running for the highly-coveted mega project.
On one hand, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Amazon-chasing organizations like the Dallas Regional Chamber have plugged North Texas’ high concentration of tech workers and its roots as the home of industry-changing technology companies such as Texas Instruments and AT&T.
"We’re a region built on technology," Rawlings said when DFW was selected as a finalist, "From the birthplace of Texas Instruments to now having the highest concentration of tech workers in the state.”
In addition, the Wall Street Journal named Dallas-Fort Worth as the overall best fit for Amazon’s HQ2, and the publication cited DFW’s large tech labor force as a top reason for its choice.
Other studies and rankings, however, call into question whether DFW has the workforce that Amazon needs. Most recently, a study from the Brookings Institution concluded that a relatively low number of college-educated millennials in Dallas-Fort Worth could derail the metro area’s bid for the online retail giant.
Topping Brookings’ list was Boston, where the tech talent pipeline is filled by dozens of higher education institutions, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University and Northeastern University.
Forty percent of all tech workers in Texas are in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and the metro is the fourth-largest tech market in the country in terms of workers, behind San Francisco, San Jose and New York City, according to Dale Petroskey, president and CEO of the Dallas Regional Chamber.
A high concentration of software and web developers is especially critical in Amazon’s search for a second headquarters, which the company claims will be equal to or bigger than its existing one in Seattle.
A tool from information technology association CompTIA allows for metro-to-metro comparisons of tech talent, and using this metric, Dallas looks to have a relatively strong case.
DFW has 209,600 tech sector jobs, according to CompTIA. That soundly beats out Austin, the only other Texas city still in contention, which has 113,200.
Breaking it down further into software and web developer positions, DFW has 39,183, and Austin has 20,389 positions of those types.
Turning to DFW’s competition for HQ2 outside the state:
The nation’s biggest metro, the New York-Newark area, has the most tech workers, with 392,400 in the sector. Some 96,068 of those are software and web developers.The Atlanta metro has 155,600 tech sector workers. Of those, 32,722 are software and web developers.The Denver area has 114,500 tech sector workers, including 24,476 software and web developers.Washington, D.C., a frequently mentioned frontrunner, has 297,900 tech jobs, including 64,704 software and web developers. Boston has 263,500 tech jobs, including 52,588 software and web developers.
For perspective, the Seattle area, where Amazon is based now, has 178,800 tech workers. Some 63,037 are software and web developers, and many of them work for Amazon already.
Amazon initially received 238 requests from metro areas wanting the company to make them their new home. When the 238 was pared to 20, the short list left off places like Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Detroit, and some of those cities have publicly blamed a tech talent shortage for their downfall.
Largest North Texas Software Developers
Ranked by No. Of Total Local Employees
Rank Company Name No. Of Total Local Employees 1 Sabre Corp. 3,300 2 Thomson Reuters 1,208 3 Crossmark 900 View This List