This week, a report in Texas Monthly examined why Dallas and Austin ended up among the finalists for Amazon’s new, second headquarters (HQ2), while Houston missed out.
The report investigates the documents behind the cities bids’ to attract the online retail giant, looking at why the biggest in Texas came up short in bringing one of the retail sector’s biggest employers to the Bayou.
According to the report, one of the major factors bidders used to attract Amazon came down to the use of tax incentives:
While Houston offered more than $268 million in cash and incentives, the amount paled in comparison to some other bidders.
For instance, officials in Maryland reportedly offered a $3 billion incentive package for the company to locate its headquarters near Washington, D.C., while New Jersey leaders created a $7 billion package to bring the company to Newark.
Another leading component in Amazon’s decision, according to the report, appears to be the quality of the bidders’ infrastructure.
Dallas and Austin both reportedly offer more extensive public transportation systems than Houston; the report also mentions the lack of a technology start-up culture and top-level technology research universities in Houston, especially when compared to Austin:
“Our startup ecosystem is very, very much in in its infancy here,” Edward Egan, director of the McNair Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Rice University’s Baker Institute, said in an interview with Houston Public Media. “We just don’t have – either in terms of startups and high-tech, high-growth firms or physical infrastructure or many of the other points that they were looking for – the things that they wanted.”
The report further speculates one of the biggest reasons Amazon passed on Houston came down to a single name: Harvey.
Images of the city’s major roads and freeways lying submerged under several feet of water potentially scared off the tech giant.
However, an op-ed piece in the Seattle Times speculates Houston potentially dodged a bullet, maintaining how the “prosperity bomb” such a massive influx of high-tech, highly-paid workers could bring may prompt increases in housing prices, a coarser corporate culture, as well as the eradication of many long-standing and unique bars, restaurants and other entertainment venues.
If these dire prophecies do come true, then Houston should wish Austin, “Good Luck!”