Building Tomorrow Together: 15 Things Mike Rosa Learned From the Amazon Bid

Dallas Regional Chamber's Mike Rosa said one of the things that was most enjoyable about building the DFW Amazon response was the rediscovery of the things that make our region a great place for companies and talent.


I’ve learned a lot about DFW, like anyone with my job would, in my many years of responding to corporate recruitment opportunities, compiling site and community information to satisfy presentations or proposals, and hosting and touring with corporate visitors.

Just being out and about all over DFW in the company of expert community economic developers has been a tremendous education.

It’s easy, sometimes, for me to fall into the trap of feeling I know just about everything there is to know about the region, thinking I’m ready for any question. That’s not true, of course. One of the things I enjoyed most about building the DFW Amazon response was the rediscovery of the things that make our region a great place for companies and talent.

“Location is not only important to Amazon, but it also is trending critical today for all corporate moves, like mobility, talent attraction, diversity, and sustainability.”

Only one of the seven Harry Potter books has more pages than the 654 pages of text, charts, maps, tables, images, and exhibits we prepared for Amazon. I’m reading back through it all with our team, so we’re tuned better than ever to present this region and to respond to corporate recruitment opportunities, particularly on location issues. Location is not only important to Amazon, but it also is trending critical today for all corporate moves, like mobility, talent attraction, diversity, and sustainability.

I could list a hundred things I learned or was reminded about while preparing the Amazon bid. I’ve listed just a few of my favorites that found a home somewhere in all those pages of data, messages, and proof points. They are in categories that will be increasingly important to our future efforts to recruit companies, jobs, and talent here:

  • Dallas Fort Worth International Airport is the first in North America to achieve carbon neutral status;
  • TEXRail, the new 27-mile commuter rail line from downtown Fort Worth to Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, will open late this year with four stops in Fort Worth, two in North Richland Hills, and one in Grapevine and Terminal B at the airport. That terminal is a short walk from the existing DART station at Terminal A;
  • Facebook’s Fort Worth mega-campus is completely powered by wind energy generated by a wind farm about 100 miles away;
  • The University of North Texas is home to the Discovery Park Zero Energy Lab Building, which combines wind, geothermal, solar, and radiant heat energy, and allows research on efficient building materials;
  • There are 61 coworking spaces, 36 accelerators and incubators, and over 20 corporate innovation centers in our region;
  • Arlington is home to EasyMile, one of the nation’s first autonomous municipal public shuttles, which connect Six Flags Over Texas, AT&T Stadium, and Globe Life Park;
  • More than 107,000 K-12 students in Dallas-Fort Worth are enrolled in computer science programs;
  • 55 high schools from 23 school districts represent our region on U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best High Schools” list;
  • Plano West has 77 of the region’s 592 SAT National Merit semifinalists in 2018;
  • Girls Who Code is an initiative for girls ages 13-17 that offers specific learning opportunities for girls to develop computer skills, have role models and peers, and pursue careers in computer science;
  • About 5,500 kids and family members are served each year by the Momentous Institute, founded and supported — as most of us know — by the Salesmanship Club of Dallas, and all the great people wearing the red pants at the AT&T Byron Nelson golf tournament;
  • Last year, the $39 million given by DFW residents on North Texas Giving Day exceeded the total given in any other state in the U.S.;
  • Both Dallas and Fort Worth achieve a perfect score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign Municipal Equality Index, which is frequently cited as one measure of a city’s inclusion of LGBTQ residents;
  • The largest fundraising dinner for the LGBTQ community in the U.S., the Black Tie Dinner, is here. Over its history, the Black Tie Dinner has raised and distributed over $21 million to 20 organizations in the region, like churches, clinics, small businesses, and other nonprofits; and
  • Café Momentum, in downtown Dallas, employs and provides restaurant management and hospitality training for young people leaving juvenile detention. Since opening in 2015, Café Momentum has helped almost 400 at-risk youth.

We can’t compile an effective regional bid for Amazon — or for other major opportunities that have landed here, or that will consider the Dallas region in the future — without great partners.

Our team of all-stars includes the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, the state of Texas, the economic development leaders and elected officials representing our regional cities, the real estate and development community, our school districts, colleges and universities, and all the public and private-sector CEOs from organizations and companies here. It’s a team sport, and we’ve got the best.

A version of this article appeared in the Dallas-Fort Worth Real Estate Review.

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Mike Rosa is Senior Vice President, Economic Development, for the Dallas Regional Chamber.