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No Move To South Florida: Amazon Chooses New York City And Suburban Washington D.C. For HQ2

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Illustration: WLRN
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Amazon isn't bringing its second headquarters to South Florida. It will split the office between New York and Washington D.C. It also announced a new operations center in Nashville.

Thirteen months after launching a national race to attract it's second headquarters, Amazon will split what it calls its second headquarters between New York City and suburban Washington D.C. Despite making the list of the final 20 cities, South Florida lost out.

"Clearly, a little disappointment," is how Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance CEO Bob Swindell describes his reaction to the decision announced Tuesday morning.  South Florida's efforts to attract Amazon's pledge of 50,000 jobs and $5 billion in investment was among the 238 initial bids in the U.S. and Canada. Amazon narrowed that to 20 in January. South Florida's effort included eight potential sites for the development.

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Great Alliance of Fort Lauderdale Alliance CEO Bob Swindell.

"It was a great process and we got a lot of value out of being one of the 20 finalists," Swindell says. "It brought a lot of national attention to South Florida."

The South Florida proposal was an unprecedented joint effort between the economic development agencies of the three major counties; The Beacon Council in Miami-Dade, The Great Fort Lauderdale Alliance in Broward and the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County.

Specifics of the bid were hard to come by, as Amazon required the 20 finalists to sign nondisclosure agreements. In January, Beacon Council CEO Mike Finney told WLRN's Sunshine Economy, "There are standard incentives that are available at the state and the county level that we absolutely would have included in this proposal. And those are things that we generally know how they operate. We're not extending things that would not routinely be available."

Amazon says it will receive over $2 billion in direct incentives from its two new locations. The incentives are based on job creation and average pay for the work.

Despite announcing its selection, Swindell says the secrecy agreements with Amazon are still valid, limiting what can be publicly released about the specifics of South Florida's efforts to attract the company. He says they may request Amazon release the local agencies from the agreements so "our volunteer leadership fully understands where we were strong and where we can do better in the future."

In addition to announcing two new offices in New York City and near Washington D.C., Amazon also announced a new operations center in Nashville. The company says that will bring 5,000 jobs, for which it will receive over $100 million in performance incentives.

Amazon's presence in South Florida is growing but not to the scale it would have if the company has chosen the region for its second headquarters. In October, Amazon Air launched twice-a-day service from Miami International Airport. The flights will help serve the company's four warehouses in the region, as well as its new fulfillment center in Opa Locka, which opened earlier this year. 

In  a statement, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said, "Amazon is hiring 1,000 workers at its new robotic fulfillment center in Opa-locka, which is a testament to our County’s logistical strength. We remain committed to other opportunities with Amazon as they emerge.”