This past week, Amazon.com revealed that Dallas/Fort Worth was among the Top 20 locations they were considering as their 2nd Headquarters – HQ2 as they are calling it. Last year, the internet giant set off a hyper-competitive proposal process, saying that it planned to invest $5 billion in building a second headquarters that could create up to 50,000 high-paying jobs. The City of Grapevine partnered with DFW International Airport to offer up 800 undeveloped acres near the airport as the site of the future headquarters, while UT Dallas and the City of Richardson partnered to appeal to the geeky side of the business by offering 100 acres of land adjacent to the college campus – an easy walk for employees continuing their educations. These are just two of the multiple locations being considered in DFW.
Being 75 miles away from the DFW metroplex, what EXACTLY could this mean for Athens?
If Dallas/Fort Worth lands Amazon, it would mean that the metroplex would experience a rush of new businesses to support the various needs of the company and its employees. The housing market would expand dramatically. Schools, stores, hospitals would all be expanded upon to meet new demands of an influx of residents.
Okay, that’s great. BUT THAT’S DALLAS. What about Athens?
As Plano City Manager Bruce Glasscock recently said about the ripple effect created by Toyota’s corporate move to his town, “A rising tide lifts all ships,” he says. “What we’re seeing – (with Toyota) like with Capital One’s expansions – is every city around us benefits, and we try to play off of each other’s strengths.” Athens’ strength lies in the fact that it is close enough to DFW that individuals could actually live here and commute there. The pristine beauty of our area, coupled with a cost of living well below that of DFW make our town an attractive alternative to individuals moving from the original headquarters in Seattle. And then, there are the employees who will live in Dallas but turn to Athens for their recreational needs. Fishing, boating, hiking, zip-lining, etc. Some of our residents may end up making the commute to Dallas to assist in the building or staffing of the new headquarters. Even that would help our town because their paychecks would come home to Athens and begin the circulation of funds in our community.
Even if Amazon doesn’t select DFW for its move, Athens needs to adopt an attitude of preparedness. It WILL happen one day, folks. Our town has much to offer, but if we stand alongside our elected officials and encourage them to strengthen our infrastructure, schools, roads, etc. it can only serve to make us even more attractive to newcomers.