Texas Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz added their obligatory Amazon pleas to the chorus on Wednesday in an open letter addressed to Jeff Bezos.
“Please allow us to be among the first to encourage you to select the Lone Star State for Amazon’s expanding business interests,” the senators wrote to the CEO, nearly a month after the Seattle-based behemoth announced plans to invest $5 billion and bring 50,000 jobs to a North American city for a second headquarters — touching off a courting frenzy by state and local officials.
Unsurprisingly, Cornyn and Cruz cite Texas’ “ideal combination of a talented and highly skilled workforce, limited government, low taxes, and world-class educational institutions,” as top selling points.
And while they highlighted that some of the nation’s fastest-growing cities are in Texas (Houston, Austin and San Antonio) and that those cities are becoming “well known as global hubs for technology, data-driven business, and talent,” only Dallas-Fort Worth gets a shoutout as being home to “more than 10,000 company headquarters.”
That, they claim, is the largest concentration in the United States.
Amazon turned a more conventional headquarters site selection process on its head by issuing a request for proposals in which the company laid out its wish list for a second home, or “HQ2,” as the company dubbed the project.
Among the priorities were the ability to attract a highly educated workforce to a given region, transit and airport accessibility, as well as a range of possible site criteria, depending on whether the company decides to build a totally new campus in a suburban setting or redevelop an urban site.
It asked for responses to that request from metro areas rather than individual cities or from states, but that hasn’t stopped business leaders from cities big and small from making direct appeals.
The Dallas Regional Chamber has said it’s taking the lead on behalf of the D-FW metro area and has sought to present a united front — a tricky task, given that it’s involved corralling a herd of development-hungry urban and suburban leaders with at times competing interests.
Furthermore, questions loom about what kind of tax incentives Amazon will take as part of its development process.
Experts say that states or cities that can offer massive incentives — like the $3 billion deal Wisconsin offered the Taiwanese manufacturer Foxconn — won’t necessarily have an edge.
Factors like workforce and transit or other quality-of-life considerations will outweigh sheer dollars.
But they also say some high-dollar incentive package will almost certainly be a baseline requirement — a fact that some observers have criticized as essentially a public bidding war to see who can offer the most corporate welfare.
The company’s deadline for proposals is October 19.
By Jill Cowan