More Amazon HQ2 Analysis Leaves Out Dallas, But Reasons Are Fixable

While cities wait to hear from Amazon about its HQ2 decisions, economists and analysts continue to ponder the prospects of who fits the bill.Texas wasn't represented on a list of 25 cities ranked by New York commercial real estate research firm Reis Inc. It listed all the cities that are above average in data representing the criteria that Amazon listed. Seattle-based Amazon set off a race among cities to land its second headquarters that it expects to spend $5 billion building for as many as 50,000 employees over the next 10 years.Other lists based on data and subjective analysis that have been published since Amazon made its announcement in September have excluded Dallas as a top prospect too. The reasons Big D fell below average in the Reis report and others are fixable. Dallas scored low on public transportation access, but new DART lines are being added, and Amazon can come in and influence how already extensive train systems gets updated. Dallas scored poorly in two out of eight variables in the Reis analysis. Its below-average score of a negative 0.1 falls far below New York City's top score of 4.8. Barbara Byrne Denham, senior economist at Reis, said she picked one proxy measure for each of eight broad categories that Amazon listed in its HQ2 specifications. For public transportation access she used U.S. Census data for percent of population that uses public transportation to get to work."I've seen DART and ridden on DART. It's not like it's not there. It is, but it's just not serving people," Byrne Denham said. Dallas' low ridership pulled it down.The proxy Byrne Denham used for "amenities and quality of life" was museum and cultural employment as a percent of total jobs in the area. Dallas was below average on that one too.Dallas killed it on cost of doing business represented by office rents, on cost of living based on apartment rents, on concentration of technology employment and of professional employment, access to higher education and business taxes.While Dallas scored below average, Byrne Denham said don't fret. "This doesn't rule Dallas out. It just shows each city's weaknesses."Southern California cities did poorly also because of public transportation and a high costs of living and doing business. Fort Worth also had a below-average overall score because of public transportation and access to higher education, which is based on private and state college employment as a percent of total employment.New Haven, Conn., for example, where Yale University is located, scored high enough on that measure to land the city in the No. 19 spot.New York City's public transportation score was so high it more than compensated for the measures where it scored poorly: cost of doing business and cost of living.The other big score for New York was its high quality of living amenities as measured by museum and cultural employment.While it's valuable to line up cities by representative measures that Amazon listed, Byrne Denham said, the decision may not line up with her report. "Amazon's decision may end up being about tax incentives, or someone wants to be in Denver to ski often, or Austin presents a great piece of property — something we can't measure," she said.Twitter: @MariaHalkias  Continue reading...

Copyright The Dallas Morning News
Contact Us