Fort Worth releases Amazon HQ2 incentive package

The City of Fort Worth and the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce released details of a presentation sent to Amazon last fall highlighting the benefits of Fort Worth as a business destination and outlining an incentive proposal worth $443.2 million from the city.

The City of Fort Worth offered a Chapter 380 economic development grant worth up to $438 million based on Amazon’s $750 million in capital investment and at least 10,000 jobs. The city also included $1.5 million in fee waivers and a $3.75 million Enterprise Zone nomination. Through that partnership program of the state and a municipality, approved projects are eligible to apply for state sales and use tax refunds on qualified expenditures at the business site. The level and amount of the refund is related to the capital investment amount and number of jobs created, and the Amazon HQ2 project was offered the maximum amount allowed.

“I think our package was competitive to other communities,” said Brandom Gengelbach, executive vice president of economic development for the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce. “It’s like the Super Bowl; There are lots of bright lights and extra attention, but it’s the same game you’ve played a thousand times before. You don’t win or lose a project on incentives alone. The criteria and approach businesses use to determine a potential expansion or relocation do not change.”

The city offered to reimburse up to 90 percent of incremental taxes on real and business property for 20 years. Tarrant County offered to abate up to 70 percent of those taxes over 10 years.

Fort Worth partners also offered to help secure discounted airfare and a dedicated service and check-in station for Amazon employees at DFW International Airport, and to work with Amazon on the installation of Smart City and Smart Building technology for HQ2.

Seven qualified sites were proposed in Sundance Square, Panther Island, AllianceTexas, Walsh, Clearfork and Overland. Fort Worth touted access to abundant and diverse talent, STEM education efforts and university partners, effortless logistics and multimodal travel, and a community spirit that “defies expectations.”

Going forward, Gengelbach says the region may be using new ideas generated by the Amazon pitch, such as a split headquarters between Dallas and Fort Worth with the Trinity Railway Express commuter rail connecting the two. This approach would leverage the full strength of the DFW metroplex, allow more efficient use of community resources and maximize the region’s labor force.

“We are currently working with more than 60 potential projects for the Fort Worth area that range in employee count and investment, with 25 percent of the pipeline from existing businesses,” he said. “We are also managing projects and doing deals in communities outside of the Fort Worth city limits, communicating with our regional partners almost daily.”

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