Amazon, Shmamazon. Study Finds South Florida Can Build Its Own Mega-Corporations

Feb 4, 2019

It's been over two months since South Florida found out it was no longer in the running to house Amazon's second headquarters. In the end, the online retail giant decided on Northern Virgina and a section of Queens, New York called Long Island City.

Originally, 238 cities submitted proposals for Amazon's HQ2 search. But the fact that South Florida made it to the list of 20 finalists is still considered a major accomplishment by many in the local business community.

A new report by Florida International University's Miami Urban Future Initiative looks at how we managed to get on the coveted list in the first place. It also covers what South Florida needs to do to lure similar companies here -- or, better still -- grow our own.

The study, called "Miami After HQ2: Why and How The Region Must Grow Its Own Amazons," and authored by Richard Florida and Steven Pedigo, identified a number of key areas that South Florida's business community needs to improve upon:

• Invest more in research universities and education
Successful knowledge regions have great research universities, and the institutions in the Miami region must strive to be just that. In particular, the region must increase its investment in research to generate the technology and talent base it needs to compete in the knowledge economy.

• Leverage talent

Amazon selected two of the greatest talent magnets in the world—New York City and Greater Washington, D.C.—for its HQ2. If Miami wants to compete with places like these, it will have to become a similar kind of talent magnet. This involves doing more to leverage the absolute size of its highly educated population, its creative class, and especially, its ability to attract global talent.

• Continue investing in South Florida's startup ecosystem

Great strides have been made in terms of growing Miami’s startup ecosystem, but more needs to be done. Incubators like StartUPFIU, the Launch Pad at the University of Miami, and the USF Start-Up Accelerator provide young people with the resources to get their businesses off the ground and the connections that make them want to stay in the region. The region can also focus on being the hub for Latin America’s and South America’s growing startup communities.

• South Florida should leverage its role as the gateway to Latin and South America
To attract the Latin and South American headquarters for global companies, the region can also further leverage its role as a gateway to Latin America. With its airports, logistic connections, and large Latin American population, it has a unique advantage here. 

• Invest in transit
Local business leaders rightly identified infrastructure as one of the key problems with Miami’s HQ2 bid—and with its overall ability to host innovative companies. While Miami has great global connectivity, it is lacking in local and regional connectivity.

You can read the full study below or go here.