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Dallas Makes Shortlist For Amazon's Second Headquarters


Amazon has narrowed the list of cities under consideration for its second headquarters to 20 — and Dallas is one of them.

Dallas and Austin are the only two Texas cities on the shortlist, which has a concentration along the East Coast and in the Midwest. Toronto is the one finalist outside of the United States.

Amazon, based in Seattle, plans to invest $5 billion in the new headquarters, which could occupy as much as 8 million square feet in the next decade, and could employ as many as 50,000 people in and around the city it chooses. In Seattle, the company says its offices generate about$38 billion in the local economy every year.

Dallas checks a lot of boxes on Amazon’s wish list: a big city, where it’s inexpensive to build and operate, with a talented workforce. It also wants strong schools and good public transportation. The latter could hurt Dallas' chances. 

As KERA's Christopher Connelly reported in October:

"While Dallas itself boasts the longest light-rail system in the country, Fort Worth hasn’t invested very heavily in transit and there’s not a ton in the suburbs. And, according to the Federal Transit Administration, North Texas isn’t even in the top 100 metro areas for public transportation ridership.
"That said, Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport helps the region’s chances. Proximity to a major international airport is one of the things Amazon wants."

A regional pitch from Dallas-Fort Worth was submitted along with 238 others from across North America in October. It's unclear if Fort Worth is included in the selection of Dallas as a finalist — and how many sites in North Texas were included in the proposal. Details are scarce, but there is a promotional video.

Response from North Texas leaders

North Texas leaders say they would have been surprised if Amazon hadn’t picked this part of the state as a finalist. 

Frisco Mayor Jeff Cheney said North Texas offers plenty of incentives, like the low cost of living. He says Frisco, which is only 65 percent built out, has identified six sites where a headquarters could be built. He points specifically to the city’s main commercial corridor – the Dallas North Tollway.

“There’s plenty of land available to meet their square footage needs along that tract. And then as you kind of move up north through the region, the rest of our city really is undeveloped, so a lot of that is just free for them to imagine what it could be,” he said.

The state offered Amazon an incentive package that it would give the company if it chose any city in Texas. Cheney says the fact that Texas has a low tax rate and doesn’t heavily regulate businesses is the state’s biggest selling point.

Brandom Gengelbach with the Fort Worth Chamber says he’s excited about advancing to the next round. He thinks Amazon liked what they saw in the regional proposal.

“The blessing about living in our region is that it really isn’t a tough sell from a corporate headquarters standpoint. We have an amazing airport with wonderful ability to fly across the world that is right in the center of our metroplex. We’ve got great universities and access to amazing talent…and low cost of living,” he said. 

Gengelbach says he doesn’t know which specific area in North Texas Amazon favors. The next step, he says, will be to have more discussions with Amazon.

“Choosing a site and a headquarters is very similar to you and I choosing a house or looking at different universities for kids to go to, and it’s just a process of continuing to search and refine and narrow down that list."

What's next

Amazon says it will work with each of the candidates to "dive deeper into their proposals, request additional information as necessary, and evaluate the feasibility of a future partnership that can accommodate our hiring plans as well as benefit our employees and the local community."

The company expects to make a decision this year. 

The finalists

  • Toronto
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Indianapolis
  • Chicago
  • Denver
  • Nashville, Tennessee
  • Los Angeles
  • Dallas 
  • Austin
  • Boston
  • New York City
  • Newark, New Jersey
  • Pittsburgh
  • Philadelphia
  • Montgomery County in Maryland
  • Washington D.C.
  • Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Northern Virginia
  • Atlanta
  • Miami
Stella M. Chávez is KERA’s immigration/demographics reporter/blogger. Her journalism roots run deep: She spent a decade and a half in newspapers – including seven years at The Dallas Morning News, where she covered education and won the Livingston Award for National Reporting, which is given annually to the best journalists across the country under age 35.