Why Miami’s Bid For Amazon HQ2 Is Much Stronger Than You Think

Analysts and bettors think Miami is a long shot to land Amazon’s HQ2. That is because they aren’t looking very closely at what Miami is offering.

Bookmaker Paddy Power puts Miami at 20 to 1 odds, lowest of any of the 20 finalist cities. A Seattle Times poll also ranks Miami as having the slimmest chance.

Speculation is that Miami falls short in three areas – financial incentives, transit, and a highly-educated workforce (our resort-town image may also play a part).

Dig deeper though, and you will see that these are actually three areas of strength for Miami, rather than weakness:

Financial incentives – Chicago is known to have offered up to $2.25 billion in taxpayer subsidies to Amazon.

Miami’s offer is much better. Instead of charging payroll tax and rebating it to the company over a decade (as Illinois would), there would be zero state income tax. With 50,000 employees earning $100,000 apiece, that is a savings of $2.5 billion over ten years, compared to the Illinois tax rate of about 5%.

There’s also the possibility of a Tax Increment Financing Deal if they build in the Overtown CRA area, which could be worth over $1 billion (putting Miami ahead of other areas with no income tax like Austin and Dallas). That is on top of incentives that the Beacon Council is offering.

Transit – Older cities like Washington D.C. have an expansive transit system in place that can get workers around the city, and to most suburbs they desire.

Miami has a unique proposition though – land with intensive zoning density available right in the urban core. There are at least three downtown sites with enough capacity to build office, housing and retail for nearly most of Amazon’s employees, allowing them to live, work, and play in the same area. Workers would never have to leave.

When they do need to travel though, Amazon would have excellent transit connectivity. At the Innovation District/Worldcenter site alone, there are four different rail systems: Brightline high speed trains to Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, and Orlando. Tri-Rail through Dade, Broward and Palm Beach. Metrorail to Miami International Airport or Dadeland in 20 minutes. Metromover to Brickell and throughout downtown.

Educated Workforce – Cities like Boston have a better established university system that churns out college grads (although Miami is on the rise in that area).

Miami though, is simply a more attractive place to live for most of those same college graduates. Study after study shows that Miami is a magnet – particularly for millennials, who are willing to spend more of their income on housing to live here.

If anything, Miami hasn’t been attracting even more millennials because there aren’t yet enough high-paying jobs. Amazon’s arrival changes that.

 

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Anonymous

Agree 100%

Even more bullish now

What other city can offer Amazon essentially a blank canvas in it’s urban core? Bezos could transform the city into his own playground and everyone would bend over backwards for him to do so! This would catapult Miami that much further into the world’s most important cities and attract the mass-affluent in droves. We got a real shot at this thing no doubt!!

Cheech

Miami is the only largely bilingual Spanish/English metro in the western hemisphere. Its population, as a test market, is a veritable microcosm of Latin America. It’s the ideal place for a Latin America and the Caribbean HQ. Question is whether Amazon is looking to use HQ2 as a catalyst into those markets. If it is, and no one seems to know, Miami becomes the favorite.

Andrewn2

San Diego is largely bilingual! I am not dismissing Miami in this area, but to say it is the only bilingual metro in the Western Hemisphere is ill informed.

Anonymous

As is most of Southern California. Miami also has business connections with Brazil (Portuguese) and a lot more European countries (French, Russian, etc.).

Andrewn2

That I can agree with.

Cheech

When it comes to bilingual as a segment of the population that speaks Spanish and English fluently, you cannot reasonably compare San Diego to Miami. This is a sharp distinction from how many people speak only Spanish and only English in the same city—as is the case with San Diego, El Paso, etc. The latter scenario does not make a city predominately bilingual. I’m sorry.

Miami1

Plus the Smart Plan could gain more momentum and move forward if Amazon decides to come here. Win win for Miami!!!

Leo

I totally agree maybe the state will realize finally how important we are and becomes determine to fund the SMART plan with billion of dollars which they can do by passing laws to take toll money for example and instead of expanding useless highway every year they would use those billions into mass transit for South Florida cause Ft Lauderdale also needs something similar to metrorail too and soon since it starting to get dense also. Hope for the best.

Anonymous

“Transit – Older cities like Washington D.C. have an expansive transit system in place that can get workers around the city, and to most suburbs they desire.”

Actually, the Washington Metro is only from the 1976, and considering quite unreliable. The make or break moment might be access to a major international airport, which Miami has, along with Brightline to MCO, and access to a major port.

BDub

And NYC subways are getting worse again due to under investment, sadly.

Anonymous

Bill De Bozo would rather spend money on rebuilding terminals for an obsolete airport like LGA and appease greedy public sector unions which threaten the subways and streets with garbage, than actually get worthwhile shit done. I even miss Bloomberg and his stupid war on large soda sizes.

Say what you want about our incompetent leaders, but New York City and State today make our governments look good.

Anonymous

This is a fantastic proposal!!

Anonymous

And maybe AA could add a few MIA SEA nonstops.

Nicko

lolz will never happen. Miami has no workforce, no work ethic. Amazon is changing the world, they need ambitious, bright people. Not people on island time who get to the office at 10am and take a siesta at 3pm. Keep dreaming.

Anonymous

Wishful thinking on your end.. that old stereotype of Miami has long been debunked… the numbers speak for themselves.

Anonymous

Miami has no chance. Bad location geographically within the US, too expensive, not enough educated people. Atlanta makes the most sense.

Anonymous

I think the education piece is not being mentioned enough. I worked in Miami for 7 years as a manager and quite often tried to recruit out of state talent and they were not interested in Miami. Reason: the school system is terrible.

Anonymous

Ummm, not everyone has kids.

I’ve worked for several companies that had zero problems getting people to work in Miami (or Ft. Lauderdale). Actually, many in the NYC and Boston HQ’s were dying to transfer down here.

Anonymous

Miami haters abound. Let’s talk about our strengths. With regard to hurricanes, the South Florida building code is one of the strongest in the nation. We already build to flood criteria. The proposal is a South Florida one, including Broward and Palm Beach counties, all to be served by Brightline and TriRail. Parts of Miami may be under water within 30 years, but we accept the challenge to adapt to higher sea levels through the Rockefeller Foundation initiative on 100 Resilient Cities. Does that mean that we don’t have challenges to overcome, of course not. Miami needs to believe in itself.

Anonymous

If amazon is a company of the future Miami is the City to be.

Anonymous

Thinking that Miami has a chance of landing the Amazon HQ2 is delusional. A CNBC ranking of semifinalist cities gives Miami a “D” ranking for talent which I think will be an important criterion. In my experience, the best and brightest students leave Miami and never return. Only 30% of Miami-Dade County residents hold a Bachelor’s degree or higher. The Metrorail is inadequate as a mass transit system. The county has an affordable housing problem. Traffic is unbearable. How can 50,000 more people be accommodated?

Anonymous

The education piece is already here, Miami has 2 of the largest universities in America (FIU & Miami-Dade), and a third UCF in its back yard. UM, FAU, Florida Memorial, Barry, JW, Nova, Lynn, BCU, PBSU, and even Plam Beach Atlantic chunrs out thousands of college educated workers a year. Miami also pulls the best from UF, FSU, USF, and other state colleges as well. You can trhow a rock in Miami and hit someone with a college degree. There is already serious tech companies in Fort Lauderdale and a new program can easily be established at local universities to push out the type of employese they need. HQ2 may not even be a Tech focused campus seeing how amazon is growing it may be more focused on logistics, health care, financials, retail or a mixture of all of those things while Seattle focuses on the Tech part. I dont think they are looking for a new tech home, but a place innovative enough to take them to the future as they try to take over America.

Anonymous

HQ2 here we come…. Mana buying up property and large plots of land… interesting

Anonymous

HQ2 in Miami could be wiped out by a hurricane within the next 20 years

Jim

Miami is a Hurricane ALLY year after year and underwater in years! The fact it connects the Caribbean and Latin America is a poor excuse since bigger business exists right now in Europe and to compete in Latin and South America you need presence there on that continent not in Miami. Jeff Bezos went to high school here for 4 years after his family moved from Texas, and then he went on to Princeton, so he is not a hometown boy like the mayor claims. The beach and cocaine is what Miami has to offer along with some Haitians and Cubans washed along the shores. 95% of all the jobs offered does not apply to the local workforce but people from out of town, making the housing prices jump for the South Florida locals. Miami is a party city not really for serious business. Bilingual does not mean anything, they need coders with the best minds not found in South Florida universities.

Anonymous

Lol.. jealous much?

Anonymous

I hope you’re not from here. Your post is so poorly worded it makes Miami’s workforce intelligence level look bad.

Anonymous

HATER

Michael Ross

The lack of great minds is probably the biggest shortfall. While you can attract some top talent to relocate here, there needs to be a base. Florida does not have a top university – period!!! We turn out football fans but not captains of industry or world class scientists. Our brightest minds leave to be educated and don’t traditionally come back.

Anonymous

When did this become a satire site? Miami is ranked last for many reasons, will never happen, let’s revisit in a few months and see who called it.

Caesar

Ironic how Miami haters are keen on reading and posting on a miami development site. It’s pathetic.