Why Did San Antonio Reject Amazon's Second Headquarters?

Why Did San Antonio Reject Amazon's Second Headquarters?

When Amazon began looking for a destination to place its second headquarters - expanding from their Seattle, Washington base – you’d expect most cities to be clamouring to have a slice of the media/retailer/online giant’s business. Indeed, many cities have thrown themselves at Amazon, attempting to woo the company with reasons as to why their city should become home to one of the biggest companies in the world – with a 50% predicted market share for Amazon by 2021. But, that’s not what happened in San Antonio. In fact, Amazon’s HQ2 was rejected by San Antonio outright.


When Amazon began looking for a destination to place its second headquarters - expanding from their Seattle, Washington base – you’d expect most cities to be clamouring to have a slice of the media/retailer/online giant’s business. Indeed, many cities have thrown themselves at Amazon, attempting to woo the company with reasons as to why their city should become home to one of the biggest companies in the world – with a 50% predicted market share for Amazon by 2021. But, that’s not what happened in San Antonio. In fact, Amazon’s HQ2 was rejected by San Antonio outright.

Senators Pitch Texas as State for Amazon’s Second HQ

Texan senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn told Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos that: “Everything is bigger in Texas, and that includes our economy, our skilled workforce, and our quality of life.” Their bid was to have HQ2 stationed somewhere in the Lone Star State as a way to boost the economy and contribute to the fact that three of the top five fastest growing cities in the USA fly the Texan flag: Houston, Austin, and San Antonio. Among the contenders for Amazon’s HQ2 were also Dallas, El Paso, and Frisco – with Cruz and Cornyn confident that Texas will end up as the host for the HQ. Only, just not in San Antonio.

San Antonio Says "No"

San Antonio leaders, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff and Mayor Ron Nirenberg, countered Cruz and Cornyn’s letter with one of their own that claimed they don’t want to host Amazon. Their stance was one that claimed Amazon already knew where they would host their HQ2 and that they didn’t want to take part in a bidding war when the decision was likely already made. Indeed, the requirements from Amazon – a major airport and a lot of downtown office space – probably wouldn’t have been met. While whichever city hosts the HQ will likely be dominated by the 50,000 jobs created, San Antonio already has a thriving business sector. By showing that San Antonio doesn't need Amazon, before any rejection from Amazon to San Antonio, the city's position is strengthened, along with their position of power as Texas’s second most populated city.

Amazon’s Strength as a Business

Indeed, Amazon’s success as a business in the global sphere cannot be overlooked. While many stand firm with San Antonio’s noble decision to not grovel at the feet of the tech giant, some decry the potential for growth that the company may provide to the city. Indeed, Jeff Bezos is most likely the richest businessman in the country, and he made the leap from millionaire to billionaire in just two years, according to Betway Casino. So, he brings with him the possibility of not just a boost to the retail aspects of the brand, but also to Amazon Studios, which have just purchased the rights to create a Lord of the Rings TV series, and Amazon Game Studios, which developed the New World, Crucible, and Breakaway games that have been successful and even featured on live streaming platform Twitch.

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San Antonio and Business Success

San Antonio is not without its own business success stories, however, including five which have made the Fortune 500 list. iHeartMedia Inc. ranks at No.426 with its $6.27 billion revenue and has been listed for 17 years. CST Brands also makes the list at No. 306, posting a $9.06 billion revenue. Coming in at No.102 is USAA, with $27.13 billion in revenue, for its 23rd year on the list. While San Antonio also has a thriving nightlife with many things to see and do, which would have been a privilege for the Amazon staff had the second HQ been stationed there. While employment from Amazon may have helped boost the economy, employment in San Antonio remains at a steady level.

Where Will Amazon Go?

Cruz and Cornyn were successful in their bid, with Amazon choosing Dallas and Austin as two of the potential cities. While HQ2 still continues to be contested, Cruz and Cornyn are hopeful that one of the two Texan cities is chosen, beating out competition from across the country. It would make sense to move the second HQ far enough away from Washington to warrant stationing – splitting the country into two halves for ease of functionality. But, as the competition heats up, there are still a lot of powerful cities in the running who could no doubt use the 50,000 jobs and appeal that the company would bring the city. There are also those who will lose some exclusivity if the company takes over their city.

While the battle for HQ2 rages on – some cities want it, others don’t, and each have a strong faction of for and against campaigners - there is no doubt that whoever ends up hosting Amazon’s second headquarters will see dividends repaid to their local economy. But, as is San Antonio’s case, the local economy can do just fine without Amazon’s help.

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