Orlando didn’t get HQ2 but Miami still could

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The Orlando Economic Partnership finally let their HQ2 cat out of the bag yesterday, following the big reveal that Amazon.com had passed on our offer to make Orlando the home of their second headquarters.

Amazon announced their top 20 potential homes on January 18, a list that included cities like Raleigh, Toronto, and Chicago, as well as Miami. The new facility alone is expected to cost roughly $5 billion to build and operate and is promised to provide as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs. The cities were judged on categories like availability of tech talent, population of more than 1 million people, and if they had a major international airports; education, talent, and mobility. Toronto is expected to be ranked high because of their pitch’s emphasis on quality of life, transportation, and sustainability.

Side Note: Stonecrest, Georgia is still in the running because they’ve offered to annex their land and essentially cut themselves in half for the honor of sitting next to a new Amazon-run city.

You can read the entire 142-page Orlando proposal on the OEP blog HERE or on any of the other busload of local media sites that have shared it in the last 24 hours. The proposal points out all the things you’d expect it to; free land, tax breaks, number of available students and tech workers; it’s not bad, but it obviously wasn’t enough.

What we should be talking about though, is how we can support Miami’s bid.

The only publicly known part of Miami’s bid is what leaked online via The Next Miami which shared the city’s offer of an Innovation District for a new 10-acre HQ2 campus in Miami’s Overtown community. TNM estimated that Amazon could receive over $1 billion in subsidies to move there. Miami has also offered five sites in Miami-Dade County, one in Palm Beach County, and two in Broward County as part of their package. Check out their kick-ass pitch video below, with a small shout-out to the new Brightline rail service.

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The Orlando Economic Partnership redacted any and all economic incentive information that was supplied by the State of Florida since Miami is in the running, and it’s likely that they simply offered the same gift basket of goodies for their application as well. But what could Orlando offer to the bid to increase Miami’s chance?

With high(er) speed rail via the aforementioned Brightline and the promise of the 30-minute Hyperloop on the table, it’s not insane to think that a more regional approach could sway Amazon, sure to become the world’s first trillion-dollar company, to move to Florida. Mobility is key. Our two airports, combined with our more affordable real estate market and access to the coast could be a key ingredient to make a sexier more regionally packaged bid for Miami.

Yes, our poor performance in STEM and workforce education efforts was detrimental to our application but imagine what a two-city collaborative campaign in increasing our combined talent pool could look like. Tech culture sets shallow roots and can travel from place to place. A strong Miami-Orlando tech corridor is sexy by its very nature. Let’s build that talent pool together so the next Amazon-adjacent unicorn doesn’t pass us by for greener pastures.

As the OEP states in their What Orlando Learned section of their online postmortem, our “collaborative culture” is a key strength for the City Beautiful; one that should certainly be loaned to our neighbors in Miami and land this fish.

We still have time. Amazon will be working with their top 20 candidates over the coming months to dissect each of their proposals and delve a little deeper into what they’re offering. Now is the perfect time to combine our efforts and strengthen our pitch before the final decision is made later this year.

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