Pratik

Pratik

Austin's chances for Amazon's new HQ2

Amazon is building a new headquarters (HQ2) in North America. It has, in true American fashion, asked cities to compete and propose to the company why it should pick them. Considering the scale and growth potential, it’s a lucrative target. Upshot at NYTimes has done a simple yet logical winnowing down of the potential cities.

Austin, the city I live in, is naturally one of the top contenders given its size, growth potential, and attractiveness for young techies. However, in Upshot’s process, it makes it to the top 9 until it drops out of contention because:

An Amazon priority is mass transit, and it has asked applicants to provide their traffic congestion rankings during peak commuting hours. These remaining metro areas are among the top 15 in the country in the share of workers who commute by transit, according to the American Community Survey. Gone are those with both weak transit and bad congestion rankings according to the company INRIX: Atlanta, Miami, Dallas and Austin.
Unfortunately, you cannot argue with that. Texas cities are bad at public transit and due to the size of the city, congestion is horrendous. The I-35 corridor that goes through heart of Austin is one of the most congested roadways in the nation and MoPac, the western arterial road, is no better. The traffic is so bad at times that we’ve often made the choice not to go someplace just because it’s not worth the drive and you are not assured of decent parking either.

On the plus side, Texas is extremely business friendly so expect it to bend over backward to offer Amazon all the economic incentives it desires in form of tax breaks and other sops. Also, Texas doesn’t have a state income tax and with the Trump administration flirting with the possibility that it may no longer allow deducting state taxes from your federal taxes, it can make a big difference to employees’ living preferences.