Amazon Primed for the East Coast
Today, Amazon narrowed their list for the company’s second headquarters to 20 cities spread (mostly) throughout the eastern U.S. The news traveled fast throughout the country as Amazon’s investment looks to be the largest expansion by any company in recent memory. The news was particularly exciting for South Florida, as Miami has been chosen as one of the “Finalists.”
What this means
While this is great news for Florida, there is still a long way to go. Miami was joined on the shortlist by Atlanta, Austin, Washington D.C., and New York; among others. Amazon will likely take their time choosing their next location and now focus their efforts on negotiating with these cities on incentive packages.
What is the potential impact
By now we’ve all heard about the potential for 50,000 management jobs with average salaries in the six-figure range and a $5 billion capital investment from the tech giant, but the impact could reach far beyond Amazon itself. In Seattle, the growth of Amazon, also lead to a boom for existing companies in the area and the formation and relocation of new companies to the city. When a company like Amazon chooses a location, clusters tend to form. Whether the cluster is a result of support companies coming to the area due to the presence of Amazon, or the influx of new talent driven by Amazon brings new firms to the region, clustering will have a major impact on the whichever city is chosen.
To be clear, Amazon is not looking to open a manufacturing plant. The “second headquarters” will house management staff, tech developers, and support staff. In the request for proposal Amazon put out in the past, the company outlined exactly what they were looking for out of a city.
1. A Metropolitan area with more than one million people (yes)
a. Miami-Dade is home to nearly 2.7 million people.
2. A stable and business-friendly environment (yes)
a. Miami has seen consistent growth in GDP since 2013 and projections show that continuing for years to come.
b. South Florida is also home to major headquarters such as ADT, Carnival Corp., Burger King, Auto Nation, and Microsoft Latin America.
c. This is also code for “we want an incentive package,” something Amazon has been very upfront about throughout the process. The South Florida region has worked together to put together a package and will likely continue to work with Amazon as the process continues.
3. Urban and Suburban Locations with the potential to attract and retain strong technical talent. (grade incomplete)
a. While Miami is certainly one of the most unique and vibrant cities in the world, quality of life can be somewhat lacking. In 2017, USA TODAY ranked Miami Beach as one of the 50 worst cities to live in the U.S. noting relatively high poverty rates and housing costs.
b. Now there are a couple aspects to note, 1. Miami Beach is one subset of South Florida and there are certainly a lot of attractive characteristics of South Florida that can be pitched to Amazon. 2. Other cities on Amazon’s shortlist also made the USA TODAY list, Including Atlanta, Indianapolis, and Philadelphia, so it is by no means a death sentence for the city.
4. Communities that think big and creatively when considering locations and real estate options. (yes)
a. This one is harder to quantify than the rest, however, again this likely means incentive money as well as the availability of land. South Florida receives the check mark here because the region seems to have banned together in an effort to attract the tech giant. Also, having options to choose from in Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach, and Miami will certainly be attractive for Amazon.
Does Miami have a chance? Sure, Miami checks most of the boxes, and although it may not seem like it to some, making it to the final 20 is a big deal. Miami will now need to work together as a community and closely with Amazon to try and create the best package they can to entice the giant south.