A columnist for The Seattle Times, who might know a thing or two about Amazon, devoted a whole column to the Tech campus. “Amazon was after one main thing: Talent. That’s the game in high-tech,” wrote Danny Westneat. “The company was willing to absorb higher costs (even with the subsidies) in order to tap into the educated workforces it needs.” He went on: “The question we should be asking isn’t whether we owe Amazon an apology, or lower taxes. It should be: Why aren’t we doing our own $1 billion university campus? That’s something that would help our own people, and all the businesses, too.” Indeed, as will the Tech campus in Alexandria, too. Amazon essentially prompted Virginia to invest in itself.
It’s instructive to look at what’s being said in some of the runner-up cities. Dallas thought it had an excellent shot at landing Amazon’s HQ2; it was rumored to have been on the shortest of short lists, perhaps even the final five. When Dallas didn’t make the cut — not even after HQ2 was split in two, and not even after there was an unexpected third, smaller, location in Nashville — city leaders were crushed. After all, Dallas had offered far more in incentives — up to $1.1 billion. But Amazon wasn’t convinced it could find enough talent in Texas.