County hopes to land new Amazon headquarters

Milam County Judge Barkemeyer speaks to a standing room only crowd at the courthouse on Tuesday morning to announce that Milam County is throwing its name into the hat in the race to win the new Amazon headquarters.






Milam County is throwing its name in the hat to become the next headquarters of online retail giant Amazon.

The county along with economic development groups from Cameron and Rockdale took a bold step forward on Tuesday morning announcing at a press conference that it they are submitting a proposal to Amazon in response to their Request for Proposals for its second corporate headquarters - HQ2. 

“This small but determined team has been working for six weeks to put together a big proposal for arguably the biggest single project in the history of Milam County and the nation, for that matter,” Milam County Judge David Barkemeyer told the crowd gathered at the courthouse for the announcement. “Milam County is proposing the opportunity to create a boundless new HQ2 on all, or part, of the property currently for sale by Alcoa, marketed as Sandow Ranch.”

Barkemeyer said that after the announcement last Friday of Luminant’s pending closure the area could use some words of encouragement and good news.

The project is a partnership of Milam County, Milam County Industrial Development Corporation, Rockdale MDD, City of Rockdale, Cameron Industrial Foundation and Cameron Economic Development Corporation, along with private institutions and individuals.

The team working on the submission named the project “Blue Sky.”

“Blue Sky opens a window wide for Amazon to create its own vision for a work and life campus and community,” Barkemeyer said. “No other community in America can provide a better and more opportunity filled proposal than Milam County.”

 “We are doing our best to put forth a proposal which showcases the value proposition,” he said. “The team also engaged the international firm of Populous to assist in preparing the proposal.”

The county met in executive session during its meeting last Thursday, Oct. 12, and approved funding in the amount of $10,000 for the project.

“As we all know, Amazon is highly regarded as being a thought leader in their industries,” Barkemeyer said. “Their innovation and creativity sets them apart from competitors and has extended the Amazon name beyond the realm of an online retailer, to technology, brick and mortar, traditional and online grocery and much more.”

He said Milam County’s proposal requests Amazon to consider the boundless opportunities of a 33,000-plus acre site within 60 miles of 2.5 million people and two Tier I research universities in Texas A&M and The University of Texas and just two and a half hours from the three major population centers in the state.

“We believe Mr. Bezos, CEO of Amazon, will find that our location will offer unique advantages among the many crowded, mostly urban sites that he will see as the proposals flood in,” Barkemeyer said. 

Barkemeyer asked all to imagine the sustainable work/life center that could be created among the vast rolling hills and lakes. 

“Consider the opportunities for families in Milam and surrounding counties with an Amazon corporate headquarters calling Milam County home,” he said. “While this is an opportunity for Milam County to welcome 50,000 new jobs and grow businesses throughout the county, our proposal provides advantages for Amazon in terms of relatively low land costs, lower cost of living for employees, utility availability, less urban congestion, room to expand, workforce availability, state and local business friendly environment, favorable weather conditions, and on and on.”

He said the proposal being submitted presents details of why we think we are the best option citing the geographic location of Milam County, which is nearly equal distance from Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio.

He said the county has long been known as a strategic advantage for businesses that are located and thriving here. 

“Our challenge has been communicating this value to other businesses and industries,” he said. “For me, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to share the advantageous location of Milam County, as well as the incredibly unique value of the Alcoa property. How could we not submit an application? It was an easy decision to pursue this great opportunity.”

He said the site is extraordinary and unique in its rich history, beauty, resources and proximity to so many brilliant and energetic young people.

The proposal includes a video introduction and a comprehensive written proposal outlining all of the assets the county has to offer.

Barkemeyer said the county has several things to offer that other major metropolitan areas vying for the headquarters don’t have including the opportunity for Amazon to create its own vision without the restrictions of larger areas.

He also said that the work that went in to the proposal will serve as a good basis for future interest from manufacturing and commercial business that may be interested in coming here in the future and will get our name out there that we are open for business.

As of now there is no timeline of when Amazon will be making a site selection. Kara Clore, Executive Director of the Rockdale MDD, said proposals are due on Oct. 19 and Amazon will make a first cut then look more intensely at those proposals that make it past the first round.

Barkemeyer said Alcoa has been involved every step of the way and they are willing to negotiate the land acquisition should that be needed.

“I look at today as the start of an upward climb for us,” he said. “This is the beginning of a bright future for Milam County.”