Economic developers from Palm Beach County joins to woo Amazon

The Business Development Board of Palm Beach County agreed Wednesday to join forces with its counterparts in Broward and Miami-Dade counties to make a joint pitch for Amazon’s second headquarters.

“We’re going in as a region, and we’re making a play at this,” said Kelly Smallridge, head of the Business Development Board.

She called it the closest alliance formed by the three counties’ economic development organizations in decades — and a far cry from the days when the groups vied to lure employers across county lines.

Seattle-based Amazon opened a bidding war earlier this month when it unveiled plans to open another facility with 50,000 employees at an average salary of $100,000. It’s seeking proposals from regions with a population of at least a million people, and a frenzied competition already has begun to unfold.

Palm Beach County’s decision to work with the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance and the Beacon Council was partly in response to Amazon’s requirements. The Internet retailer is encouraging cities to submit only one proposal per metropolitan statistical area, and despite its population of 1.4 million, Palm Beach County is part of the Miami MSA.

There’s also the reality that Palm Beach County’s labor pool might not be deep enough to provide the tens of thousands of workers Amazon ultimately hopes to hire.

“You can have the most beautiful greenfield site, but if you don’t have the ability to produce the workforce they need, you don’t stand a chance,” Smallridge said.

Amazon stressed transit in its request for proposals, and South Florida is poised to get a rail service linking the downtowns in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.

“I think the Brightline significantly strengthens our story,” Smallridge said.

One potential downside: Amazon wants incentives, and Florida lawmakers have signaled their skepticism about paying subsidies to employers. During the 2017 session, legislators cut the state’s budget for incentives.

“Certainly, the conversations in the last legislative session make it a little more difficult,” Smallridge said.

Amazon announced its plans for a second headquarters as Hurricane Irma threatened South Florida, so the region’s economic developers didn’t spring into action immediately. However, applicants have until Oct. 19 to submit applications.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in

Kate Watt takes over the helm of Susan G. Komen South Florida
Kate Watt takes over the helm of Susan G. Komen South Florida

Kate Watt began her new job as executive director for Susan G. Komen South Florida in West Palm Beach the week Hurricane Irma hit in September. But now, under clearer skies, Watt is focused on the organization’s mission. In particular, she said, the goal of reducing breast cancer deaths by 50 percent by 2026. And part of that objective is to...
HOA board may have power to regulate exterior of your home

Question: I live in a small development governed by an HOA. Our declaration of covenants states that “no patio-villa owner shall in any way deface or change the color of the exterior of his patio-villa. Exterior walls, roof and the fencing around the courtyard are to be maintained by each patio-villa owner in quality condition at all times.&rdquo...
FPL asks PSC to agree new Dania Beach plant is needed
FPL asks PSC to agree new Dania Beach plant is needed

Florida Power & Light wants to build another natural gas-fired plant, but first the Florida Public Service Commission has to agree that the proposed Dania Beach Clean Energy Center Unit 7 is needed. On Friday, Juno Beach-based FPL filed a formal petition asking the PSC to affirmatively determine that a modernized $888 million 1,163 megawatt facility...
After Irma: Storm slows hiring, home sales, muddies economy
After Irma: Storm slows hiring, home sales, muddies economy

Hurricane Irma disrupted Florida’s economy in September, slowing job growth and scotching home sales. Even so, the storm seemed to deliver only a glancing blow to the state’s labor and housing markets. Palm Beach County’s jobless rate fell to 3.6 percent and Florida unemployment dipped to 3.8 percent, both decade-long lows. NEW: Westlake...
Electric vehicles: What has to happen to increase popularity?
Electric vehicles: What has to happen to increase popularity?

Electric vehicles ride quietly, will run without gasoline and can be “filled-up” at a charging station at home. So why do they make up well below 1 percent of the 250 million vehicles on the road in the U.S.? The higher up-front cost of an EV along with “range anxiety” about how far a vehicle can travel on a charge are among...
More Stories