January 18, 2018

MBAF's Miguel Farra discusses South Florida’s efforts to become the location for Amazon’s new headquarters with the South Florida Business Journal.

South Florida has been picked as one of 20 potential areas for Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters, the only Florida bid to make it onto the shortlist.

So what now?

Added scrutiny, says the e-commerce behemoth (Nasdaq: AMZN).

In a statement issued Thursday morning announcing the list of candidate locations, Amazon said it will work with each to “dive deeper” into their proposals and request additional information.

The tri-county effort to land the corporate hub, which has come to be known as HQ2, has not been made public. According to sources, however, among the region’s highlighted attributes are: zero state-income tax, more than 2,000 daily flights at regional airports and a diverse and multilingual population.

The Miami-Dade Beacon Council’s president and CEO, Michael Finney, said Thursday marked a major milestone for South Florida. And it’s just the beginning.

“We shared a lot of information in our proposal, and we expect they’ll want to understand more about what we represented,” Finney said. “Then there are other points to be negotiated like sites and incentives.”

John Boyd Jr., a site consultant with Princeton, New Jersey-based firm The Boyd Co., said future conversations between South Florida’s economic development officials and Amazon should center around the region’s “unparalleled” commercial development opportunities.

“We’re now entering a phase where it’s really about real estate, and South Florida has a diverse portfolio that could really stand out,” Boyd said. “You could think about going vertical in a skyscraper or maybe something more spread out, away from the city center. Either way, you look around Miami and you see those cranes and it just looks like money. That’s infectious.”

For Miami CPA firm MBAF’s Miguel Farra, the key to bringing Amazon to South Florida lies in emphasizing the region’s location.

“There’s entertainment, good colleges and tax savings – we offer things that other cities offer. But no one has the vibrant population, proximity to Latin America and Europe and the year-round beach weather we have,” he said.

At an affordable housing conference held Thursday morning, just hours after the shortlist was published, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez echoed Farra.

“There is only one area in the country that has that uniqueness,” Suarez said. “We are very fortunate it’s all coming together.”

The competition for HQ2 drew 238 applications, with cities lured by Amazon’s promise to deliver $5 billion in direct investment, up to 50,000 employees and millions of square footage in Class A commercial real estate development.

Of the 20 cities highlighted in Amazon’s shortlist, 16 are east of the Mississippi River, and seven of those locations are clustered in and around a short radius of roughly 300 miles stemming from the nation’s capital. No surprise, Washington, D.C., also happens to be a fast-emerging power center for Amazon’s founding father: Jeff Bezos.

The 20 locations:

  • Atlanta
  • Austin
  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Columbus
  • Dallas
  • Denver
  • Indianapolis
  • Los Angeles
  • Miami
  • Montgomery County, Maryland
  • Nashville, Tennessee
  • Newark, New Jersey
  • New York City
  • Northern Virginia, Virginia
  • Philadelphia
  • Pittsburgh
  • Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Toronto
  • Washington D.C.

Click here to read the article on the South Florida Business Journal.