Does Miami Really Have A Shot At Amazon HQ2? Wall Street Analyst Picks ATL

Written by Dana Sanchez

Bringing Amazon to Miami has always been seen as a long shot, so South Florida economic development leaders were ecstatic following Thursday’s announcement that Miami is on the top 20 list of likely candidates.

South Florida’s chances of landing Amazon’s second headquarters look better now than they did before the Seattle-based company announced its 20 top picks out of more than 200 applicants, according to Miami Herald.

Miami pitched itself as “a tech center for the Americas” — something that would appeal to Amazon, the world leader in online retail and a pioneer in dominating through technological advances.

But one Wall Street analyst is betting that Atlanta will land Amazon HQ2 in what will likely be the most competitive and public competition in history for a corporate headquarters.

South Florida surviving the first cut was “a surprise win all by itself,” Miami Herald reported.

“You almost want to put out ‘Amazon HQ2 approved’ or something,” said Bob Swindell, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, Broward County’s economic-development agency.

Three South Florida counties joined together to identify as Miami in the application process. They submitted eight potential sites — five in Miami-Dade County, two in Broward and one in Palm Beach.

But the odds are still against Miami, where leaders said they held back from offering Amazon the kind of massive subsidies included by other contenders, like a $2.5 billion incentives package from Chicago with $100 million in free land and hundreds of millions of dollars in local and state tax breaks. Newark also made the list of 20; it offered a $7 billion incentive package.

However, Atlanta offered even less in subsidies than Miami — at least publicly — so that may not be an issue.

Daniel Ives, a tech analyst at GBH Insights, said he thinks five cities on the new list of 20 candidates for Amazon HQ2 have a better chance than Miami. Atlanta heads the list.

“We believe the top 5 likely cities for Amazon’s second headquarters/HQ2 in order will be: 1. Atlanta, 2. Raleigh, 3. Washington D.C., 4. Boston, and 5. Austin (only non-East Coast city in our Top 5),” Ives wrote in a note to clients Sunday, according to CNBC. “While any of the other 15 cities on the list (with Pittsburgh and Philadelphia most likely) are clearly possible locations for HQ2, we ultimately believe these 5 cities appear to be the most viable candidates given all the competing factors.”

The city that gets Amazon’s second headquarters will receive benefits that change its landscape — including a commitment made by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezost nd $5 billion and create 50,000 high-paying jobs. Amazon said it was looking at metropolitan areas with 1 million people.

Miami-Dade County has about 2.69 million people, Broward County has about 1.9 million and Palm Beach has 1.42 million for a total of 6 million. The Atlanta metropolitan area is home to 5.6 million.

“With Amazon’s investments translating into tens of billions flowing into the Seattle economy over the last decade and given its clear momentum as a consumer and enterprise global behemoth, this will be a crucial decision for Amazon and ultimately change the future landscape and economic trajectory of the city that is awarded HQ2 for decades to come,” Ives wrote.

Atlanta winning Amazon HQ2 could mean billions in gains for Black homeowners. Atlanta checks many of the boxes Amazon is looking for including strong academic institutions (Georgia Tech, Emory), relatively lower costs, mass transit, and affordable housing.

Forty-eight percent of homeowners in Atlanta are African American. That’s higher than the national average for Black home ownership, which was 42.5 percent in 2012, according to the U.S. Census.

While it’s hard to think of anything negative about such a win if Atlanta is selected, there are some community concerns. These center on gentrification and affordable housing.

Ives said these are the five most important criteria in Amazon’s decision:

1. “East Coast presence.”
2. “Thriving engineering/surrounding university infrastructure and student pipeline.”
3. “Transportation hub with major growth potential.”
4. “Strong technology and pharma industry presence.”
5. “Business friendly, political incentives, and attractive tax/economic long-term benefits.”

Bezos has a history and familiarity with Miami. He graduated from Miami Palmetto Senior High School in the 1980s.

If Amazon wants to use its “HQ2” choice to send a message about diversity or new markets, Miami offers a chance to plant a flag in the financial capital of Latin America. Florida’s lack of an income tax, weak labor-union protections, and ‘business-friendly’ climate fostered by a Republican-dominated Legislature could be particularly appealing in the headquarters hunt,” according to Miami Herald.

Amazon’s narrowed search for a second headquarters boils the list down as follows: Atlanta; Austin; Boston; Chicago; Columbus, Ohio; Dallas; Denver; Indianapolis; Los Angeles; Miami; Montgomery County, Maryland; Nashville; Newark; New York City; Northern Virginia; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Raleigh, North Carolina; Toronto, Canada; and Washington, D.C.

According to Good Jobs First, a nonprofit group that tracks subsidies, the finalists for Amazon’s second headquarters have offered these subsidies to Amazon from each metro area or state:

Texas: $269 million

▪ Austin: $11 million

Dallas: $500,000 and four deals of unknown value

Ohio: $93.7 million statewide

▪ Columbus, Ohio: $21.5 million in two deals

Illinois: $83 million statewide

▪ Newark: $39.4 million

▪ New York City: $23 million

Pennsylvania: $22.5 million statewide.

▪ No deals from Pittsburgh and Philadelphia

▪ Boston area: $18.4 million in two deals

California: $10.3 million statewide in three deals

▪ Los Angeles: $1.6 million

▪ Nashville: $7.7 million in six deals plus one of unknown value

▪ Indianapolis: $7.1 million in five deals

▪ Miami: $6.2 million

Virginia: $4.5 million in four deals statewide

Northern Virginia: One deal of unknown value

▪ Denver: $1.2 million

▪ Atlanta: $504,023

Amazon HQ2
Downtown Miami. Bigstock