Collin County, north of Dallas, has many urban areas. They're called malls.EXPAND
Collin County, north of Dallas, has many urban areas. They're called malls.

In Race for Amazon HQ2, We Must Pretend to Love Collin County — for Now

Something I did not know about Amazon’s search for a new subheadquarters — I guess they forgot to tell me — is that Amazon wants to see a lot of regional cooperation and coordination coming from the metro areas vying for this $5 billion prize.

Rather than a bunch of competing pitches from different municipalities within a standard metropolitan area, Amazon, the devourer of all retail, wants to see a unified proposal from each city and its suburbs together.

Right. Got it. So all we have to do, here in half-white, high-poverty, blue-voting Dallas is come together on a plan with three-fourths-white, predominantly affluent, beyond-red-voting Collin County to our north. It’s important. If we don’t show Amazon that we can achieve kumbaya with each other, then none of us will be able to cash in. I think that’s straightforward enough.

Right off the bat, the city should take control of the pitch-writing process in order to make sure that Amazon will see how sweet-tempered, generous, cooperative and totally noncompetitive we all are in this region and how the very last thing anybody in this area would want to do is devour anybody else. Goes without saying.

I have a lot on my plate here at the paper, it’s true, but I’m sure I could find the time if anybody at City Hall wanted to engage me on a strictly volunteer basis to write the pitch. These are my initial thoughts:

Although we are the city and we will be writing the pitch, we should show Amazon how fair we are by starting out with all of the great things about the affluent suburbs north of us. For one thing, if there are any Amazon employees who prefer an urban environment, we should reassure them that the new suburbs north of us have a number of make-believe urban environments created by shopping mall developers.

They’re really great. It’s like being in a city, but the whole city is inside a shopping mall. Best of all possible worlds.

The cultural life up there is unbelievable. Collin County offers an incredible array of nationally franchised sports bars, exciting megachurches and top-notch golf courses. It’s whatever you want, within the framework.

And don’t buy that old line about a lack of diversity. In Collin County, you have people from Texas, people from Minnesota, people from New Jersey — it’s a crazy quilt. All around you while you eat dinner at your nearest service-drive Applebee’s, you may hear accents from three or four states.

The suburbs, by the way, are serviced by the nation’s longest light-rail train system. We wouldn’t suggest that you count on using it to go to work or really anywhere else specific, but, if you happen to be a light-rail buff, you can spend many long, carefree days just riding around randomly on the light-rail system, called DART, and see where you wind up. Then you will need to have someone you can call to pick you up.

It’s true that if you lose your job in Collin County, run out of money or get sick, you will have to leave. It’s called “being poor,” which is not allowed. But that is where our wonderful regional spirit of cooperation clicks in.

Let’s say your spouse is working at a typical nonunion Collin County high-tech startup; he gets cancer, and the company has to fire him because now he has turned into a sick person. No problem. You send him straight down here to Dallas and have him live in his car for a few weeks while he goes to Parkland, our huge and nationally respected county hospital.

In Dallas, we actually help poor, sick people get healthy again, and we pay for most of it out of our local tax dollars. It’s another way in which our region offers a diversity of cultures — the kind of culture that asks poor, sick people to get out of town and the kind that welcomes them with open arms. We’ve got it all.

Last note on our wonderful northern suburbs: When buying a house, you want to be sure to ask the title company to tell you if it will be in what the federal government calls an “inundation zone.” I’m sorry. We’re not allowed to say anything more about that.

Dallas is one of the nation's most gay-friendly cities.
Dallas is one of the nation's most gay-friendly cities.
Melissa Hennings

Now, speaking of Dallas, what does the city proper have to offer except for mercy for the impoverished and terminally ill? Well, some things. The city has some things to offer, even though we hate to brag.

We have an area code-named by insiders as BBYGPDHTSY, which stands for Brooklyn But Your Grandparents Don’t Have To Support You. Its real name is North Oak Cliff. The commercial part of it is an old, turn-of-the-century streetcar development, preserved for decades by Mexican immigrants as a walking and window-front community. Now it is home to a lot of newcomers of varied ethnicities who seem to be living in harmony with the deeper-rooted Latino families.

North Oak Cliff is an absolute fountain of new and original shopping, eating and entertainment. Somehow in spite of all that, rents and property prices are still quite reasonable — cheap next to anything in the real Brooklyn and free next to Northern California. And people who live there are able to get jobs, start businesses — have lives, in other words, all without putting the bite on the gramsters.

Downtown Dallas is burgeoning with new and remade residential. On any given fair-weather weekend night, the sidewalks of the Uptown District look like Paris. Old East Dallas is jammed with sleek new apartments and historic districts. Deep Ellum has blues roots back to Blind Lemon Jefferson and Leadbelly, and the Cedars area is crawling with artists and one-eyed dogs.

Trulia, Business Insider and Alternet all have rated Dallas proper, the city, as one of the nation’s most gay-friendly places. The city’s Latino population, which makes up more than 42 percent of the total populace, is making its mark in politics and business.

Dallas has a new city manager and a new police chief, both African-American, both hired from outside the city. South of Dallas are suburbs that contain large, affluent, majority African-American and Hispanic neighborhoods. A young, progressive contingent is on the verge of achieving an elective majority in the city.

Now, since we here in the city will be the ones writing this pitch, we will need to make sure the people at Amazon don’t get the idea we think any of the qualities cited above for the city make us superior in any way to our suburban brethren to the north in Collin County.

We need to realize that the people of Amazon may prefer dinner at Applebee’s to an evening walking the streets of Blind Lemon and Leadbelly. Golf, church, and an absence of sick or poor people may sound like heaven to them, and that’s why we started off telling about those things.

The point for us to make is that we’ve got it all here in the Dallas metro area. Oh, almost forgot, sorry: We should tell them there is another city here in the area called Fort Worth. What to say? Lots of fracking and Western art. Great barbecue.

So that’s the general outline of my pitch. I hope it gets the point across: In the Dallas area, we are extremely noncompetitive, and all we want to do is just hold hands and be regional.

I do have this creepy little misgiving I’m trying to choke back. Why would Amazon, which is in the process of aggressively devouring all of the retail in the world, be so interested in finding a new home where the natives are sort of droopy-lidded sweet and passive? What do you suppose it might have in mind for us? It just devours retail, right?

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