Miami, you get no respect.
We won’t know until sometime in 2018 if the Miami metro area wins or even makes it to the short list for Amazon’s new second North American headquarters, dubbed HQ2. That winner-takes-all prize comes with up to 50,000 high-wage jobs that would quickly vault South Florida into the tech hub that it has been trying to create.
And the competition is sure to be stiff. The e-commerce giant received 238 proposals from around the continent in response to its open and very public call for applications. By its Oct. 19 deadline, everybody from New York to Los Angeles, and Vancouver, Canada, to Detroit to Chattanooga, Tennessee, expressed their desires for the $5 billion project. The Miami-Dade Beacon Council, in collaboration with the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance and Palm Beach County’s Business Development Board, included eight sites in its proposal, including in downtown Miami and Doral, and Tampa, Orlando and Jacksonville submitted proposals as well.
Yet, the handicapping of the cities’ chances in this economic development sweepstakes has been intensifying in recent weeks. The latest is the Wall Street Journal’s analysis, where the publication ranked areas by key indicators included in Amazon’s ask: tech labor force, fiscal health, cost of living, college population, culture fit and state tax rank.
It might seem as if South Florida, home of no state income taxes, vibrant millennial-loved downtowns, the largest college in the country and the much hyped Magic Leap, could play well. Spoiler alert if you haven’t read it: Miami isn’t even on the map.
The Journal ranked Dallas, Boston and Washington, D.C., at the top, all favorites in other analyses, too. Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, New York and Nashville, came in next, followed by Austin, Minneapolis and Newark, which it called “longshots.”
Other rankings have also dissed Miami. The New York Times’ analysis chose Denver, though the Magic City did make its semi-finalist list. Ratings firm Moody’s was most bullish, ranking Miami as No. 7, but believes Amazon will choose Austin, Atlanta or Philadelphia. Sperling’s Best Places ranking likes Atlanta, Boston and Chicago the best and places Miami all the way down at No. 22, sandwiched between Nashville and Los Angeles. Miami didn’t crack Anderson Economics Group’s top 20, and a half dozen others didn’t rank Miami at all.
None of the rankings include the big unknown: what incentives the states and metro areas will cough up to lure Amazon and how big of a factor that will be. New Jersey is reportedly dangling a $7 billion package.
Vegas is placing its bets on familiar names Atlanta, Austin and Boston. Still, even Vegas put Miami’s odds at 20-1, much higher than most of North America.