Could Austin be home to Amazon’s next headquarters?

Kevin Dural

In a press release, Amazon announced its intentions to open a new, second headquarters equal in size to its current one in Seattle. 

The online commerce giant will invest $5 billion in the new location, which is predicted to create up to 50,000 jobs. In addition, projections suggest tens of billions of dollars of investment in the surrounding area of the new campus.

Amazon’s press release states that the company has a preference for cities that have a population of over one million, are business-friendly and can provide employees skilled in navigating Amazon through the current technology boom.

With a population nearing one million and a university that provides skilled and experienced tech workers, Austin immediately comes to mind, suggested management lecturer Dennis Passovoy.

“We would pitch the youth of the city,” Passovoy said. “These students have an awareness of technology. Their target employees live here, with the University of Texas pouring them out of the door.”

As far as maintaining a business-friendly environment, Passovoy proposed that the City of Austin may be interested in negotiating a deal with Amazon if it meant that the capital of Texas would be home to one of the largest, well-respected companies in America.

“I’m not speaking from any perspective of inside knowledge, but from the way I see it, Austin should be very interested in cutting a deal,” Passovoy said. “It would be good for Austin, good for Texas, and create a lot of jobs.”

Accounting lecturer Stuart Singer agrees, saying that this might be the only way to attract the technological behemoth that is Amazon. 

“Like every other location that is under consideration, each state must go out of its way to provide special incentives such as property tax breaks,” Singer said. “This is actually very common, and I’d be surprised if Texas would do any different.”

He also noted that Austin’s Intel, IBM and Apple campuses suggest the presence of a very warm climate for large businesses.

“We are the host to Intel, Apple, IBM and a whole bunch of other companies,” Singer said. “If I was the mayor and I saw the opportunity to bring Amazon and what that could mean for the community, I would jump right on it.”

Singer suggested that Amazon’s current presence in Austin may influence its decision. With Whole Foods being in Austin, Singer said that Amazon possesses a familiarity with the local area that they do not have with many other cities around the nation.

Singer also added that Austin’s airport would be very attractive to Amazon.

“Although the airport is small, it is very efficient and easy to expand. Its runways are longer than most runways in Los Angeles, for example,” Singer said. “There’s plenty of room to expand — just add terminals. Austin has made it so that there aren’t any zoning issues with this.”

Accounting lecturer David Verduzco said that the economic influence of a potential Amazon arrival cannot be understated.

“Any facility of that size will have a large economic impact on the city,” Verduzco said. “If the employees don’t already live here, they will be. Austin keeps growing quickly, and with Whole Foods here, Amazon in Austin seems like a natural fit.”

Singer suggests that Amazon can become an integral part of Austin in the same way that IBM has.

“Amazon can become entrenched in this community,” Singer said. “Companies and cities like that. This would be a win-win for both sides.”