AUSTIN, TX — Austin and Dallas are arguably the strongest contenders to land a planned $5 billing second headquarters for Amazon — a coveted project known simply as HQ2 — according to a new report.
CNBC reached the conclusion after assessing various attributes of all 20 finalist cities being considered to host the retail giant’s second headquarters site, including both Texas finalists. Those dynamics were then matched against the criteria set forth by Amazon officials in their HQ2 site search.
Austin has been widely seen as the strongest contender for the plant by many observers, but the Big D appears to be neck-in-neck in the race with the capital city if the CNBC reckoning is to be believed.
The business news media outlet also singled Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Miami, Nashville and Northern Virginia as particularly strong contenders for the massive project. Amazon officials said the project would ultimately employ some 50,000 workers, sparking a spirited competition among the remaining cities vying for the major economic development coup.
The list of 20 finalist cities vying for the project has steadily been whittled down from an original 238 municipalities from Canada to Mexico that submitted bids. Four main criteria were outlined for would-be headquarters sites:
Metropolitan areas with more than 1 million people.A stable and business-friendly environment.Urban or suburban locations with the potential to attract and retain strong technical talent.Communities that think big and creatively when considering locations and real estate options.
CNBC analysts base much of their assessments as to why Austin and Dallas emerge at the top of the finalists heap from their own analysis of the 2018 America’s Top State for Business data to ascertain their strengths and then matching that against Amazon’s own outlined criteria.
Both cities were given a letter grade of A- in terms of their potency in potentially landing the huge plant. Here’s the CNBC tale of the tape:
Overall Grade: A-
Texas seems to have many attributes that align well with Amazon’s needs. No state has a better infrastructure, and the state’s business climate is the picture of stability, thanks to the nation’s best all-around state economy. Austin offers not only those attributes but also a legendary tech scene fed by the state’s flagship university and a vibe that tech talent can love. Texas does have some quality-of-life issues when it comes to crime, health insurance and inclusiveness. And while the state gets points for having no corporate income tax, high property taxes cancel out some of that cost advantage.
Overall Grade: A-
Dallas offers the same Texas advantages that Austin does — great infrastructure, a strong and stable economy, and a world class workforce. It also offers more air travel options. Dallas–Fort Worth International Airport is the world’s fourth busiest based on aircraft operations, serving 233 destinations including 57 international cities. But Dallas also shares Texas’ disadvantages when it comes to quality of life and cost. Plus it suffers a relative shortage of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) workers that companies like Amazon crave.
Photo: A portion of the sign advertising Amazon Go is seen outside the grocery store’s location on June 16, 2017 in Seattle, Washington. Amazon announced that it will buy Whole Foods Market, Inc. for over $13 billion dollars. By David Ryder/Getty Images)