The fight is on in Texas and across the country. For what the ubiquitous corporate giant Amazon is calling HQ2, its second corporate headquarters in the U.S. and the perks will be enormous.
About $5 billion in capital investment and 50,000 jobs with a six figure average salary. Add to that the potential to cluster related technology jobs, it’s easy to see the reason for the frenzy. Austin, Greater Dallas, El Paso, Frisco and Houston are making proposals that are due this week. Amazon is expected to make a decision in the first quarter of 2018. So, what are the prospects for Texas in this competition for an economic whale? Some are touting the Texas connections of founder Jeff Bezos. He spent his childhood in Houston, while his dad worked for Exxon and his cousin is George Strait. Who you may have heard sings country music from time to time. And Amazon already has 20,000 employees in Texas, who we trust can attest to the wonderfulness of the Lone Star State.
But in fact it’s mostly a business decision. Attributes like work force size and skill, location and essential infrastructure, the tax regulatory environment, quality of life, other cultural or recreational amenities will be considered. Along with affordable housing, cost of living and the quality of education at all levels. Amazon’s RFP says quote “The project requires a compatible cultural and community environment for it’s long term success. This includes the presence of a diverse population, excellent higher education, local government structure and elected officials eager and willing to work with the company” unquote. This is likely the template for future large corporate expansion and relocations and Texas generally stacks up well.
As we look ahead, business and elected leaders are preparing for Texas future through emphasis on skills base education and workforce development, infrastructure capacity, both physical and virtual assets, smart cities, access to capital for entrepreneurs and tools like incentives to stay competitive. Texas will have stiff competition from other cities across the country. In sealing the deal will almost certainly includes incentives and require collaborative state, local effort.
In Texas the package will include the Texas Enterprise Fund and local tax abatement’s and of course, our pro-business, pro-growth policy climate. The opening bell has rung on the Amazon deal. How will it end? Starting with a strong team led by Governor Abbott and great professionals throughout the regional and local economic development ecosystem. Texas has done it before and is well-positioned to do it again.
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Craig Casselberry is founder and president of Quorum Public Affairs, Inc. and a 20-year veteran of Texas politics. As president of Quorum Public Affairs, Casselberry has managed more than 100 strategic communications projects, issue coalitions, and federal, state and local public policy campaigns for corporate clients of all sizes. You can learn more about Craig HERE.