CEOs: Amazon’s strong look at Miami for HQ2 made the region look hard at itself

CEOs were asked: Amazon chose to go elsewhere than South Florida/Miami for its HQ2, but the deals in N.Y. and Virginia are being heavily criticized. In hindsight, is this too bad or a relief/good riddance for us?

Our South Florida business environment is vibrant and growing at a rapid pace. The inclusion of Amazon in the mix would have been a wonderful addition and would have accelerated our growth. Nonetheless, South Florida is recognized as a great place to live and do business, and will continue to grow its reputation as a prime locale for technology and consumer oriented enterprise.

Dr. Edward Abraham, executive vice president for Health Affairs

of the University of Miami and CEO of UHealth -

the UM Health System


Miami is perfect for the Amazon Prime Distribution Center but not a key contender for Prime HQ. Was nice to be considered but, Miami suffers from lack of talent, housing, and it has commuting issues, therefore the moves to those cities made perfect sense to us. In this case, too bad, but we’re not ready.

Jim Angleton, CEO for Aegis FinServ Corp.


Amazon’s decision is neither good nor bad for South Florida. Our region has a lot to offer – culture, diversity, economic vitality and global positioning. The opportunity will be embraced by another.

Wael Barsoum, M.D., CEO and president

of Cleveland Clinic Florida


There are pros and cons for “winning” this competition. I am a massive believer in South Florida as a premier location for any business big or small. We are ideally located geographically from a global perspective. We have a unique and diverse culture. We benefit from fantastic weather, all professional sports teams, world-class museums and performing arts venues, world-renowned events like the Super Bowl, Orange Bowl, and Art Basel Miami Beach, and no state income tax. One of our concerns is our overloaded infrastructure. We all feel the congestion of our airports, the challenges with our ports and everyday old traffic jams, any time of day. As a community, we need not only to continue to attract entrepreneurs and small businesses but also grow big businesses in South Florida for us to be competitive and thrive long term. When Amazon decided to go elsewhere, we kicked the can down the road on dealing with our infrastructure issues, but we haven’t solved them. I am disappointed that we were not able to win this bid but have confidence that it is only a matter of time before other Fortune 500 companies take notice and locate their headquarters here in South Florida.

Brett Beveridge, CEO and founder

of The Revenue Optimization Companies (T-ROC)


It is always unfortunate when we lose business to other cities and regions. Over the years, we have lost many business opportunities that can really transform this city into a real business hub. It is part and parcel of a bigger issue. Those issues/solutions are a more robust public transportation system, affordable workforce housing and a more educated and diverse local workforce.

Bill Diggs, president, The Mourning Family Foundation


I think regions benefit when more technology based jobs become part of their economic base. While many are concerned about giving economic benefits to large and profitable companies, these industries bring high paying positions and provide a positive economic impact in the form of consumer spending, home sales, restaurants, entertainment, car sales, and other services. And they attract or spawn other high-tech businesses, further accelerating economic benefits. Altogether, they can dramatically enhance the economic buying power and standard of living in a region.

Louis Hernandez Jr., CEO of Black Dragon Capital


Amazon HQ2 would have been beneficial for Miami — the jobs, the bump in housing demand, the direct effect on retail sales and sales tax, and the overall economic impact. I am a supporter of the Beacon Council and its mission to recruit businesses to relocate and expand in Miami-Dade County. I’m sorry to see Amazon go elsewhere.

Agostinho Alfonso Macedo, president and CEO of Ocean Bank


I assume the South Florida committee responsible for making a presentation to Amazon for their new HQ2 performed a well-vetted cost-benefit analysis prior to making any formal bids. On the surface, the NY & Va. bid looks outlandish but it’s hard to say for sure without truly understanding the economics of the proposals that were ultimately accepted. All we’re hearing at this point is white noise.

I believe rolling out the proverbial red carpet is worth the trouble when there’s a possibility to attract a corporation with the scale and impact of an Amazon.

James “Jimmy” Tate, co-owner and president of TKA-Evolution Apparel and of Tate Capital, and co-founder of Tate Development Corp.


After being named amongst the top 20 finalists as the city to be chosen, it is a win-win situation for South Florida not to be selected as the second headquarters for Amazon. Amazon chose to split the second headquarters between New York City and the Washington, D.C., suburb of Arlington, Virginia. Together they will divide up the 50,000 high-paying jobs the online retail giant is expected to bring. Miami and South Florida is now a city for other businesses to consider when looking to expand into new locations. There are many benefits to being viewed as the underdog.

Rashad D. Thomas, vice president of business connect and community outreach for the Miami Super Bowl Host Committee


I strongly believe Amazon made a mistake in not selecting Miami for HQ2. The site amazon passed in Miami neighbored Paramount Miami World Center which is the most remarkable development in the United states and Miami is the gateway to the americas and I am surprised they did not select Miami and I believe that is a regrettable decision.

Manny Angelo Varas, president and CEO of MV Construction Group


I believe it’s too bad for us. For the past two decades, Miami has become a mecca for new ideas, populations and a booming economy. Building and expansion has taken South Florida to new heights. Since many businesses have striven to pay the living wage of $13.44 in Miami-Dade County, the offer of Amazon to pay a minimum of $15 per hour would have been a positive step in the right direction. Even if South Florida closed the deal and it wasn’t totally successful, we should never be afraid to go after business deals that could potentially boost our economy and create job expansion

Dorcas L. Wilcox, CEO of Miami Bridge Youth & Family Services


Congratulations to NY and Virginia on their successful bid for HQ2; time will tell the merit of the investment. For South Florida, this is a good opportunity to reflect on the workforce and infrastructure development required so we will be viable candidates for future investments of this scale. We must continue to develop a 21st century workforce – one that ensures equal access and pay equity for women in all industries.

Chelsea Wilkerson, CEO of Girl Scouts Tropical Florida



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