Some, but not all, finalist cities for Amazon’s HQ2 seem excited by the prospect, survey says – Dallas Business Journal

Some, but not all, finalist cities for Amazon’s HQ2 seem excited by the prospect, survey says – Dallas Business Journal

Call us cocky or call us confident, but the residents of Dallas-Fort Worth are darn near certain that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos would be wise to plant his HQ2 project and its 50,000 high-paying jobs right here in North Texas.

Somewhat surprisingly, 68 percent of North Texans would rather see Amazon locate in the suburbs as opposed to Big D’s downtown if Bezos and his band of merry site selectors are smart enough to choose us over the lesser locales vying for their love.

That’s according to a survey produced by a partnership between the Business Journals and Elon University in North Carolina. An online poll looked at all 19 of the U.S. regions that, along with the Canadian city of Toronto, remain in the running for Amazon’s HQ2. The survey was conducted from March 30 through April 3 and was designed to gauge each city’s enthusiasm — and willingness to make sacrifices — to land the Seattle-based company’s eye-popping $5 billion proposal to develop a new campus for up to 50,000 employees.

Residents of Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Indianapolis appear willing to do whatever it takes to win Amazon’s second North American headquarters. Their cousins in Denver, Austin and Boston? Not so much.

A whopping 66 percent of respondents in Dallas-Fort Worth said North Texas is "definitely" the best choice for HQ2 from the perspective of Amazon executives. That swagger makes DFW the most confident metro area in the nation, followed by Atlanta, where 61 percent said their city is the best choice.

Grant Pruitt, co-founder, president and managing director of Dallas-based Whitebox Real Estate, exemplifies the North Texas optimism on HQ2.

"From a sheer business climate and nonpolitical standpoint, I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to be in DFW," Pruitt said in an interview with the Dallas Business Journal. "There are so many things that DFW has going for it, it makes all the sense in the world."

While the majority of the survey’s 7,397 respondents nationwide voiced general support for the project, disparities abound.

For example, some cities proved more sensitive than others to HQ2’s potential effects on traffic, and there was broad disagreement as to whether local small businesses will benefit, or be hurt, by the move. Many offered full-throated support in favor of special tax and financial incentives, while majorities elsewhere said they are obliged to tell the company to take nothing and like it.

In Los Angeles, for example, 21 percent of respondents said the city should offer “as much as possible” to land Amazon’s HQ2 — the highest percentage in the country. Compare that to places like Austin, where just 8 percent thought landing HQ2 was worth offering huge incentives to the company.

Some 12 percent of DFW residents said the region should offer "as much as possible," while 48 percent said incentives should be offered, "but within reason." We are reasonable people, after all.

Only 8 percent of North Texans said DFW should tell Bezos and company to take a hike on financial incentives. That compares to 17 percent in the other "D" city, Denver, whose residents were the most wary of giving away the farm.

Residents of cities such as Indianapolis and Nashville appear to be willing to put their own money on the line to land the project. Roughly one quarter of those who participated in the survey in those cities said they would be willing to pay more in taxes to fund incentives for Amazon. In Dallas-Fort Worth, 21 percent of residents were willing to pay more taxes to land the e-commerce juggernaut’s second home.

Other cities differed when it came to making personal sacrifices to bring Amazon to town. Miami residents said on average they would absorb a 13.4 minute increase to their daily commute if it meant the city could land HQ2. Miami also had the highest percentage of residents who said they would pursue job opportunities at a new Amazon headquarters, with 58 percent saying they would consider applying for a position with the company.

DFW drivers were willing to spend an extra 11 minutes daily in traffic to drive HQ2 to DFW, and a relatively low 48 percent of us would pursue a job there.

The city showing the least interest in landing Amazon’s HQ2 was Denver. Just 16 percent of respondents said they think their region needs the jobs HQ2 would bring. Denver also had among the lowest percentage of respondents saying landing HQ2 would be beneficial to local small businesses.

In North Texas, 29 percent of the residents polled said our region needs the new jobs, putting it squarely in the middle of the pack. And 50 percent said HQ2 would be positive for existing small businesses in DFW.

Of the DFW folks surveyed, 68 percent think landing Amazon HQ2 would increase housing prices, 70 percent think it would raise commercial property rents, 61 percent think it would increase average wages, and 47 percent think luring HQ2 will raise costs of living overall.

On the political front, 30 percent of North Texans believe attracting HQ2 would make the region more liberal and 8 percent think it would make the region more conservative.

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