Editorials

Luring Amazon a good reason to drop Big D rivalry

THE EDITORIAL BOARD

A clerk reaches to a shelf to pick an item for a customer order at the Amazon Prime warehouse, in New York. Amazon announced Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018, that it has narrowed down its potential site for a second headquarters in North America to 20 metropolitan areas, mainly on the East Coast.
A clerk reaches to a shelf to pick an item for a customer order at the Amazon Prime warehouse, in New York. Amazon announced Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018, that it has narrowed down its potential site for a second headquarters in North America to 20 metropolitan areas, mainly on the East Coast. AP

There’s been a lot of posturing lately as the historic rivalry between Dallas and Fort Worth resurfaced.

When a recently released economic development study said Fort Worth needs to up its game or be perceived as a Dallas suburb, many of our Cowtown citizens went ballistic.

“Don’t Dallas my Fort Worth,” some of you said.

This Star-Telegram Editorial Board also weighed-in when a Dallas Morning News columnist suggested Fort Worth should embrace its junior status.

We said, Fort Worth is junior to nobody, and “we aren’t sitting at the kiddies table.”

That was good-natured ribbing. (Most of it.)

When it comes to the really big things that matter — when there are millions of dollars and up to 50,000 high paying jobs on the table — we should all support and applaud regional collaboration. Even if Big D gets top billing.

Fort Worth should be thrilled and raising a toast following Amazon’s recent announcement that “Dallas” is among 20 locations chosen as finalists for the e-commerce giant’s second North American headquarters, better known as HQ2.

The North Texas bid that was submitted actually came from a group of area cities including Dallas, Frisco, Arlington and Fort Worth.

The Fort Worth Chamber’s Vice President of Communications Andra Bennett says the Chamber is still trying to clarify whether in naming “Dallas” Amazon means it’s considering a site location within that city, or if it’s shorthand for looking at sites throughout the region’s communities, including Fort Worth’s Panther Island.

Either way Fort Worth wins if HQ2 comes to North Texas.

The city with the headquarter site obviously wins the biggest. It’s directly gets the tax revenues.

But the region would profit, too.

Seattle Times columnist Jon Talton recently wrote that having Amazon’s current headquarters in his city has lifted wages and created a lot of software jobs. Amazon has pumped $38 billion into the tax base which has supported community programs.

Talton noted, however, that Amazon also gets blamed for soaring Seattle home prices and gridlocked traffic.

OK, so nothing is perfect. But here’s what’s already happening.

Fort Worth is being mentioned in national media coverage as a player for one of the biggest economic development “gets” in years.

Bennett said the Chamber’s economic development executive Brandom Gengelbach was interviewed more than a dozen times in the past week and included in media reports around the country.

“Fort Worth’s visibility has been raised,” she said. “It would take a lot of marketing dollars to get that.”

And being noticed is something the recent economic development report identified as a weakness for Cowtown. It said prime businesses relocating or expanding don’t necessarily think of Fort Worth.

So even if Amazon picks a different competitor, Fort Worth has benefited by working with Dallas and the other area cities. Fort Worth alone would not have been as strong a competitor.

As Amazon prepares to begin looking more closely at the finalists, let’s set aside our competitive instincts and get behind this opportunity. Not just as proud Fort Worth dwellers, but as enthusiastic North Texans who know how to make newcomers feel at home.

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