The October 19 deadline for proposal submissions to Amazon for its massive second headquarters building (HQ2) is right around the corner, and lots of Texas cities are clamoring for Jeff Bezos’ attention.
Many of Texas’ and the nation’s hopeful urban areas were disqualified right away for not ticking all the boxes on Amazon’s list of requirements, including population size, proximity to transportation and airports, fast wifi, good universities and more.
But for those cities still in the running, including Houston, Austin, and several areas in and around the DFW metroplex, a new piece in Texas Monthly reports officials in these areas may want to think a little harder before bringing the retail Goliath into their backyard.
For one thing, Amazon’s treatment of its employees is a continued subject of questions regarding its working conditions.
Relatedly, its top-tier employees might be earning six figures, but its low- and mid-level employees are subjected to a pretty harsh working reality, according to a 2015 report by the New York Times:
“At Amazon, workers are encouraged to tear apart one another’s ideas in meetings, toil long and late (emails arrive past midnight, followed by text messages asking why they were not answered), and held to standards that the company boasts are ‘unreasonably high.'”
The article goes on to report other examples of mistreatment, particularly among women:
“A woman who had breast cancer was told that she was put on a ‘performance improvement plan’ — Amazon code for ‘you’re in danger of being fired’ — because ‘difficulties’ in her ‘personal life’ had interfered with fulfilling her work goals.”
Another way HQ2 could impact the potential Texas city it lands in is through a spike in housing prices and increase in traffic congestion.
For a lot of cities, like Houston, which attracts people though lower cost of living, this could stall growth, keep people away or drive people out altogether.
According to the Texas Monthly findings, this was the case in Seattle with the construction of Amazon’s first headquarters.
Dallas and other Lone Star cities are considered frontrunners for Texas, but Houston is also expressing interest in housing HQ2.
That said, with Facebook already established in Austin and gearing up to expand, it definitely fulfills Amazon’s requirement for a tech-savvy workforce.
Prospective problems aside, HQ2 could bring many benefits to the city ultimately chosen, through jobs and an influx of cash, but whichever jurisdiction ultimately lands the deal, leaders there will undoubtedly be forced to consider if the pros outweigh the cons.
The Texas Monthly piece concludes with a warning for cities before they bid on HQ2:
“…(T)hey should take the time to think long and hard about whether they actually want it.”