Greater Miami will survive, and thrive, despite Amazon’s recent decision to locate HQ2 not just in another city, but in two other cities.
In fact, this region already is thriving. Miami-Dade’s Beacon Council teamed up with the economic-development agencies in Broward and Palm Beach counties to present the megacompany a richly comprehensive portfolio of what the region has to offer.
Amazon was looking for a place to put another corporate headquarters, with promises of bringing 50,000 jobs and a $50 billion injection of revenue. Several cities across the country made pitches, too — 238 of them at the outset. But South Florida’s impressive application propelled it into the Top 20. In a savvy show of regionalism, South Florida’s application boasted eight potential sites for HQ2, five in Miami-Dade, two in Broward, one in Palm Beach. Stakeholders tackling other challenges should take note.
Amazon announced that it was splitting HQ2 in two, with half of the headquarters destined for Long Island City, in Queens, New York, and the other half headed to Arlington, Virginia. The company said that these areas would attract the high-skilled workers it seeks, for jobs that it says will pay an average of $150,000 a year. The choice is not without controversy. Critics of the move are alarmed that between the two winning cities, Amazon stands to receive $2 billion in tax credits and other incentives. “Corporate welfare” they lament. We likely will never know what South Florida governments were prepared to ante up.
So, where does the 14-month pursuit of HQ2 leave South Florida? With the best case yet for technology and other businesses to give this region a serious look. Amazon’s application process forced the region to present the most complete picture yet of its assets: tech talent, innovators, climate, proximity to Latin America.
No doubt, others will be swayed by all that’s on offer, and that the region is also facing up to its challenges from transportation to sea-level rise. In fact, the Beacon Council a while ago kicked its recruitment campaign into high gear, looking to lure tech companies to Greater Miami. The talent already is attracted to the area and, given the wealth of academic institutions in the region, it’s imperative that we grow more of it.
South Florida is wise to continue to make the case that Amazon should consider making this region the hub for a Latin American component.
After 14 months, South Florida’s efforts to land Amazon’s HQ2 may have been unsuccessful, but with all of the region’s assets, they were far from fruitless.