Ama­zon pitch to in­clude CEO tes­ti­mo­ni­als

Cham­ber en­lists ex­ecs to vouch for qual­ity of life, busi­ness cli­mate

The Dallas Morning News - - Front Page - By MARIA HALKIAS Staff Writer mhalkias@dal­las­news.com

The Dal­las Re­gional Cham­ber is en­list­ing some of Dal­las’ big com­pany CEOs for tes­ti­mo­ni­als as it pre­pares the re­gion’s sub­mis­sion to Ama­zon.

De­vel­op­ers, prop­erty own­ers and ar­chi­tects hus­tled for three weeks to get im­pres­sive site pro­pos­als done and sub­mit­ted by Fri­day for Ama­zon’s prized HQ2.

Now some of Dal­las’ big com­pany CEOs may be put to work on be­half of the re­gion.

Dozens of sites from down­town Dal­las to Fort Worth, Frisco, Car­roll­ton and West­lake are com­pet­ing to be se­lected for Ama­zon’s sec­ond head­quar­ters, and their back­ers turned in plans to the Dal­las Re­gional Cham­ber by the lo­cally im­posed dead­line. Ama­zon wants the pro­pos­als by Oct. 19 and is en­cour­ag­ing re­gions to sub­mit uni­fied bids.

The cham­ber wouldn’t say how many sites it re­ceived, but the pro­pos­als are now in the hands of the group’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment staff, said Dar­ren Grubb, a cham­ber se­nior vice pres­i­dent. “We’re not shar­ing or of­fer­ing specifics,” he said, “but we’ve re­ceived qual­i­fied sub­mit­tals from many re­gional cities.”

The cham­ber is shep­herd­ing the process from here, in­clud­ing shar­ing in­sights on some intangibles.

Seat­tle-based Ama­zon plans to spend $5 bil­lion to build a sec­ond head­quar­ters that will em­ploy as many as 50,000 peo­ple over the next 10 years. That’s a huge, for­ever-chang­ing project for any city, and Ama­zon wants to know more than what real es­tate lo­ca­tions it can oc­cupy. It also wants to know if a new re­gion is a good cul­tural fit for its fu­ture em­ploy­ees.

Ama­zon asked specif­i­cally about “com­mu­nity” and “qual­ity of life,” say­ing “a sta­ble and con­sis­tent busi­ness cli­mate is im­por­tant.”

“Please demon­strate char­ac­ter­is­tics of this in your re­sponse,” Ama­zon said. “We en­cour­age tes­ti­mo­ni­als from other large com­pa­nies.”

Large com­pa­nies aren’t in short sup­ply in North Texas. Dal­las-Fort Worth is home to more than 150 pub­licly traded com­pa­nies, ma­jor re­gional of­fices and large pri­vately held com­pa­nies. Twenty-two com­pa­nies head­quar­tered here are on the For­tune 500 list, in­clud­ing AT&T, ExxonMo­bil, Amer­i­can Air­lines, South­west Air­lines, J.C. Pen­ney, Kim­ber­lyClark and Texas In­stru­ments.

The cham­ber will make those tes­ti­mo­ni­als part of the re­gion’s sub­mis­sion to Ama­zon. Amer­i­can Air­lines’ CEO Doug Parker is among the busi­ness ex­ec­u­tives asked to give his en- dorse­ment of North Texas.

The re­gion’s bid also will in­clude an overview pre­sen­ta­tion of data “that gives a com­pre­hen­sive story,” Grubb said.

The cham­ber has promised cities it will keep their pro­pos­als con­fi­den­tial, he said, and is try­ing to keep the process pri­vate. Sev­eral North Texas de­vel­op­ment groups pub­licly touted their project plans this week, and cities around the coun­try are ac­tively try­ing to win Ama­zon’s at­ten­tion.

Ama­zon set off an un­prece­dented com­pe­ti­tion among North Amer­ica’s ma­jor metropoli­tan ar­eas when it said on Sept. 7 that it was look­ing for a city for a sec­ond head­quar­ters, a project con­sid­ered by many to be among the largest eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment prizes in U.S. his­tory.

Hill­wood Ur­ban

This ren­der­ing shows an Ama­zon of­fice tower pro­posed by Hill­wood Ur­ban to be built in the Vic­tory Park area of Dal­las.

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