As word got out that Amazon may pull out of its’ planned halfquarters in New York, every single city that had a shot is discussing the potential that the virtual big box store will eventually turn its sights to one of the jilted — Dallas included.
Let’s review: In November, after nearly a year of being courted by nearly every city in the country, Amazon flipped the script and decided to divide its second headquarters site between two cities – Long Island City, New York, and Crystal City, Virginia.
But nearly immediately, many New Yorkers began voicing their resistance to the idea, saying they worried that Amazon would push up prices and rents in the neighborhood, and force existing residents out. They also criticized the incentives offered to the retail giant.
As resistance grew, The Washington Post reported Friday that Amazon was potentially thinking of walking back its plans for the New York site.
What does that opposition look like? Well, this statement was dropped in my inbox Friday evening, from the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union’s president, Stuart Appelbaum.
“If the Amazon deal falls apart, they will have nobody to blame but themselves. A major problem is the way the deal was put together shrouded in secrecy and ignoring what New Yorkers want and need. They arrogantly continue to refuse to meet with key stakeholders to address their concerns, despite requests from New York’s top elected officials to do so. With their long history of abusing workers, partnering with ICE to aid their persecution of immigrant communities, and contributing to gentrification and a major housing crisis in their hometown of Seattle, New Yorkers are right to raise their concerns and opposition to this plan. New Yorkers won’t be bullied by Jeff Bezos, and if Amazon is unwilling to respect workers and communities they will never be welcome in New York City.”
However, the Dallas Morning News editorial board has a decidedly different take on the prospect of having Amazon in town, quickly penning an op-ed titled, “Dear Amazon, New York doesn’t want you; Dallas does.”
In the missive, the paper talks up Texas’ business-friendly reputation.
“New York will never be the happy home for Amazon that Texas could be. The Empire State’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, might be able to cough up billions in incentives to land a high-flyer like Amazon, but there is a layer of lawmakers who will work to undermine the very company investing in the state. Cuomo might have realized this recently when he lamented the fact that his state is losing tax revenue because the well-heeled are lighting out for the territories —otherwise known as Florida and other lower-tax states.”
We reached out to a few city officials to get their thoughts on whether Dallas would try again if Amazon asked, but none have gotten back to us yet (seems to be a common problem, D Magazine only got one reply).
So we turned to our readers, who uh, definitely had some opinions — 45 of them at last count.
“If Amazon ditches New York, and starts looking for a second choice, would anything make you want Dallas to try again, and why/why not?” we asked.
With 45 replies, we opted to divide them by Nay, Yay, or Eh. We also are only presenting a sampling (you can click above to see everyone’s responses).
Michelle Christy Michell: “Let me get this out of the way: I have worked for Amazon for two years. It is a great job for someone in school. I don’t want them here.”
Timothy Ward Dickey: “I still can’t get over the fact that Our Downtown Betters secretly committed us to offering $600 million in incentives. This, in a city with $11 Billion in unmet infrastructure needs, an abysmal bus system, potholes galore, a police department just barely hanging on for dear life, park maintenance Budget cut by half a million dollars, homeless encampments proliferating under freeway overpasses, and on and on. But the Amazon deal is B_G, so we HAVE to go for it, no matter the cost, right?”
Rebecca Bell Wilson: “Not if Dallas is going to give a massive tax break that Dallas homeowners have to subsidize with property taxes.”
Kris Moore: “Dallas is already in a housing and inequality crisis. The very last thing we need is more rich people being catered to by our city government.”
Karen Newton: “We don’t have the transportation infrastructure. What if these people are used to commuting by train? They would be limited on where they could live.”
Kimberly Boyce: “Cities typically offer huge give-always to companies moving in. I don’t think those giveaways are ever matched by the returns. In addition I wouldn’t want Amazon anywhere near our central neighborhoods. It would lead to completely pricing out current residents.”
JP Piccinini: “The downtown Dallas scene would greatly benefit from this. No doubt in revenue to the state and counties levels with personal sales and property taxes. I was in LI city here recently and I shook my head as to why that site was selected…other than just a straight political snob it didn’t make financial sense. Now it’s backfiring because of the same policies and gubernatorial mentality they were so proponent of. Dallas just has to go in with a close.”
Kyle Rains: “If Amazon were to relocate in or near Downtown Dallas it would be a game changer on the scale of the Texas Centennial at Fair Park in 1936. It put us on the map. Otherwise we might be Tyler, Texas.”
Eric Dettmers: “I’d say bring it on … if Amazon stipulated that Dallas upgrade their surface streets from third-world to developed-country.”
Ryan Jacobson: “Any corporation moving here is a good thing.”
Suzanne Frossard: “I think it is all about the people. We would welcome them with Texas hospitality and succeed no doubt. Nothing like it above the Mason Dixon line.”
H.L. Rowry: “It would be totally worth it. This isn’t some sports franchise. This is the foreseeable future of America, HQ’d in Dallas.”
Vaun Lineberg: “DFW is a perfect place for Amazon.”
William Reynolds: “Only if they pay us to be here not the other way around. There are a lot of companies coming here now BECAUSE Amazon isn’t.”
David Burrows: “Tax breaks for billionaires isn’t a popular theme. If Bezos can help pony up money for our infrastructure, fire and police and give everyone in Dallas free Prime, we can talk.”
David Morrison: “Some of you are forgetting we already have Amazon warehouses and order fulfillment centers here. Whether they would build a headquarters here however, I doubt it. They wanted a location that has anti-discrimination laws, good transportation, walkability for their employees.”
Randy Smith: “Two company hq’s is very odd. They’ve made this a political football for a few years now to successfully pit city against city and drive up their value. The estimated $5B the investment will bring in the Amazon groupies, but probably won’t be supported by most cities’ infrastructure. It’s funny really, you know, whether Bezos’ or some other folks are the bigger egos. That’s a big part of all this. It’s fun to watch though.”
Conversations Were Had, Too
There was a bit of back and forth, too.
“Massive tax break? You mean a break from taxes we otherwise would never have, and great jobs for our residents that continue the growth of our urban core,” said Mark Melton. “It grows the economy at little to no actual cost to the city. I’m not sure why we wouldn’t.”
“Ongoing increases to our infrastructure costs including roads & schools that would normally be paid from taxes are paid for how? Raising taxes on residents?” Deb Young asked Melton.
“All those workers are taxpayers paying sales tax in the city every day they’re working here. And if we actually develop affordable housing for them it’s even more in taxes,” Melton replied. “Finally, those tax abatement are temporary. Eventually, Amazon pays taxes, too.”
“Sales tax is the most regressive tax option available, putting the most burden in the least fortunate,” Young said. “Also, in this state the local take is 2% at most…that is a tiny trickle of money to address large infrastructure projects.”
“We have the potential for the infrastructure and resources which makes us a ‘prime’ target,” Lynn Davenport said.
She pointed to a recent piece by Soap Hope founder Salah Boukadoum, who wrote about Dallas’ potential to be the “center of the world for developing and deploying solutions to our world’s most pressing problems.”
“We can become the Impact City. Around the world, we find global centers for finance, technology, culture, religion, manufacturing, and medicine, yet no center has emerged for sustainable solutions to humanity’s greatest challenges — until now. It is time for a global impact center, and that center will be Dallas.”
Boukadoum pointed out that “ Dallas does not yet have a 21st-century global identity,” which makes it the perfect blank slate, waiting for that, with its ideal airport, central location, and more.
And all those things could make the city attractive to Amazon.
“Are we really, as a city, that forward thinking at this stage?” Annette Krausse wondered.
Whether Dallas gets another shot or not, it’s clear that the city (and region) won’t be hurting for corporate relocations — it’s still highly sought after, an analysis by CityLab revealed.
When ranking growth in headquarters locales, Dallas and Houston ranked third and fourth, with 22 and 20 respectively.
The Texas Triangle region, which is Dallas, Houston, and Austin, took third place when it comes to corporate headquarters, with 53 between the three of them.