MIAMI (CBSMiami) – And then there were 20.
Miami has been named in the final 20 cut for Amazon’s new second headquarters in North America, what they’ve dubbed HQ2. The online giant started out with more than 320 locations and whittled it down dramatically.
Today we are announcing the communities that will proceed to the next step in the HQ2 process. Getting from 238 to 20 was very tough – all the proposals showed tremendous enthusiasm and creativity https://t.co/x1bFYbk4Ui pic.twitter.com/J2x0HHzBTR
— Amazon News (@amazonnews) January 18, 2018
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez expressed his excitement on Twitter.
We are very excited that @CityofMiami made it to the list of cities being considered for @amazon’s HQ2! #Miami’s business-friendly environment and our highly-skilled, multilingual workers are ready for #AmazonHQ2. https://t.co/YCzhwN6AVb
— Mayor Francis Suarez (@FrancisSuarez) January 18, 2018
“It’s particularly exciting for me as a new mayor, wanting to usher in this new sort of generation and this new excitement regarding Miami as real tech player on the world scene,” said Suarez.
The mayor said he’s ready to seal the deal with another South Florida guy — Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos who attended Miami Palmetto Senior High before becoming the world’s richest man.
“Whatever it takes! I put in a call to Jeff Bezos myself and I told him that the city manager and I are willing to fly up to where he is and meet with him and try to get him to come down here to Miami,” he said.
The morning announcement caught nearly everyone by surprise, including Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez.
“It’s a great day for Miami, we are in the top 20 to try to land the second headquarters for Amazon,” Gimenez said.
The Miami proposal actually encompasses Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties meaning if selected the new HQ2 could be built anywhere from Homestead to Jupiter. Leaders have been tight-lipped about the specifics of the proposal.
There are eight possible locations; five are in Miami-Dade, two are in Broward and one is in Palm Beach.
“The best way for us to move forward is as a region because we have different strengths and weaknesses,” Gimenez said. “We’re much stronger together than we would be apart.”
The City of Doral sent CBS4 News their part of the proposal. You Can Read It Here.
Miami Commissioner Ken Russel said he hope’s Amazon’s HQ2 will be in his district, which includes Miami’s urban core.
“The Omni area only makes sense. This is the blighted area west of the Arsht Center, just north of the core of downtown and our Metromover actually has a terminal stop right there in an open area that can be developed,” said Russell.
Local leaders sell the fact that South Florida has three international airports with 2,000 flights a day, two major ports and the new bright line train connecting downtowns. They also point out this is a top 10 college town when you include all three counties, lending itself to a better talent pool for the 50,000 people who would work at Amazon.
Bob Swidnell is the president of the Great Fort Lauderdale Alliance. He helped draft the proposal.
“Four research universities are based here is an important part of that,” said Swindell. “We have amazing technology programs in our high schools so it’s creating that talent pipeline.
Swindell says part of the talent pool in South Florida includes more than half of the population is bilingual in an area that’s considered a Latin American business capital.
“We think that Latin American market is going to be a growing market of Amazon and there’s no better place than South Florida to able to reach out to central and South America and the Caribbean,” he said.
Traffic and poor transit have been mentioned as possible cons to building it in South Florida.
Other big-name contenders to make the list include New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Dallas, Nashville, Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Denver.
Amazon says they plan to invest over $5 billion in construction and expect that their HQ2 will grow as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs over the years. They add that they expect it will become the full equal to their current headquarters in Seattle.
The Seattle headquarters, or campus, is comprised of 33 buildings which have 24 restaurants and eight other services. More than 40,000 people work on the campus. The company said last year they paid out $25.7 billion in compensation. The average salary at Amazon is $100,000.
Amazon said they spent $3.7 billion in capital investment for the campus and they spend $1.4 billion annually on utilities and maintenance.
In 2016, more than 233,000 hotel rooms were rented out by people visiting Amazon employees.
In addition to Amazon’s investment and direct hiring, Amazon HQ2 is expected to create tens of thousands of additional jobs. They said more than 53,000 addition jobs were created in Seattle as a result of Amazon’s direct investments.
Amazon expects to make a final decision on its HQ2 location sometime this year.