Amazon has 2 new homes
It was an honor just to have been nominated.
That’s what South Florida leaders said Tuesday after Amazon turned down Miami in announcing its 50,000-person HQ2 project. Instead, the project will be split evenly between two 25,000-person offices in Queens, New York, and Arlington, Va.
“These two locations will allow us to attract world-class talent that will help us to continue inventing for customers for years to come,” Amazon founder, CEO and former Miami resident Jeff Bezos said in a statement.
The Seattle-based e-commerce giant also said it would open an additional, 5,000-person operations facility in Nashville.
Despite earlier speculation, Miami did not receive any consolation prize.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez told the Miami Herald that while he was disappointed Miami was not chosen, the effort to attract the company was worth it.
“Making the top 20 was a big deal for us,” Gimenez said. “The process was also very good for us — it allowed us to inventory what we have, and how we can improve our weaknesses. Hopefully we can attract other tech companies to Miami-Dade.”
Bob Swindell, president and CEO of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, which worked alongside the Miami-Dade Beacon Council and the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County to put together South Florida’s HQ2 bid, echoed Gimenez’s remarks.
He added local leaders may now focus on making a case for an ‘Amazon HQ-LatAm.’ Gimenez said he had no information on a potential Latin American headquarters for Amazon.
“If they have a LatAm ‘HQ’ in their plans, I would certainly think we’d be a leading contender,” Gimenez said.
An Amazon spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment on the potential for a Latin American headquarters.
Citing a desire to remain on good terms with Amazon, the Alliance said it would not be releasing the details of the incentives package South Florida put together, at least until Amazon releases the counties from its confidentiality agreement.
Even then, the Alliance said, it may not release the details for years.
“Regarding incentives, the economic development organizations are not commenting on the details of the proposal because our organizations remain bound by nondisclosure agreements with Amazon, unless the company releases us. And we want to stay on good terms with them,” an Alliance spokesperson said. “Florida law also states that confidentiality for economic development projects can last up to two years.”
Whatever incentives were offered, they may have paled in comparison to what the winning cities put forward. The city and state of New York came together with a package worth at least $1.5 billion, while the state of Virginia and Arlington offered more than $500,000 in incentives.
Some had decried Amazon’s selection process as a race-to-the-bottom corporate welfare giveaway. On Tuesday, the conservative outlet The National Review said it agreed with Democratic Socialist Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s critique of the process.
“Handouts like this to Amazon and other prominent companies are appalling in their cronyism, pure and simple,” the outlet said.
Two New York City council members are already planning a protest of the city and state’s incentives package. And the Washington Post reported that working class Arlington, Virginia, residents are concerned that they will be forced out by price increases.
“It’s becoming a much less economically and racially diverse county, and a huge employer like Amazon coming in is only going to increase that pressure,” Philip Tegeler, executive director of the Poverty & Race Research Action Council, told the paper. “We can’t just keep pushing lower-wage workers farther and farther out into Northern Virginia with longer commute times and develop these monoculture bedroom suburbs.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio Tweeted Tuesday that all New Yorkers would benefit from Amazon’s presence.
“Amazon’s #HQ2 will bring us $13.5 billion in tax revenue and as many as 40,000 new jobs — the biggest move of new jobs to our city in our history,” he said.
Mike Simkins, the developer behind the downtown Miami Innovation District, which had been touted as a potential landing spot for HQ2, said Miami had made a compelling pitch.
“While we met each requirement they asked for, unfortunately, it was not our time,” he said.
The process had nevertheless “shown the world the progress Miami has made over the past decade to become a global city,” Simkins said.
“We are THE city of the future,” he said in a text message. “I have no doubt that Miami will attract and create major multinational corporations that will have large presence in our City. We are growing faster than almost any city in USA, and the fact that HQ2 is going to other cities is not going to change that. The best for Miami is yet to come. Downtown Miami and Miami Innovation District in particular will be a big part of our growth.”