Moody’s Analytics: South Florida not such a long shot for Amazon’s HQ2

10:37 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018 Business
Bloomberg photo by Jim Young

Bookies say South Florida is a long shot for Amazon’s HQ2, but Moody’s Analytics likes the Miami region’s chances.

A new ranking by Moody’s Analytics puts South Florida in 11th place among all cities that meet Amazon’s criteria, according to senior economist Adam Ozimek -- not a favorite, but not a long shot.

Because this is a ranking by dismal economists, it’s not simple: Moody’s Analytics’ Top 10 includes Cambridge, Massachusetts, and San Diego, two cities not among Amazon’s 20 finalists. Eliminate them, and Miami moves into ninth place.

Moody’s Analytics was one of the few observers to give Miami a strong shot before Amazon narrowed its list to 20. It initially put South Florida in seventh place.

“Very few people outside of Miami really thought of them as a contender,” Ozimek said.

At the time, Moody’s Analytics gave South Florida high marks for its logistics infrastructure and ties to Latin America. Dragging the region down were weak public transit, uncertainty about where 8 million square feet of office space might fit and the Florida Legislature’s reluctance to dole out fat subsidies for job creation

After Amazon named its 20 finalists, Moody’s Analytics recalibrated its rankings to consider the priorities reflected by Amazon’s choices. With big, expensive cities like Boston, New York, Washington, D.C., and Toronto among the finalists, Moody’s Analytics concluded that the factors of business environment and human capital topped Amazon’s wish list. Cost, quality of life and transportation mattered less.

With that new calculus, Boston and New York rank first and second.

“If cost doesn’t seem to matter that much, those are the really fast-growing cities with lots of educated workers,” Ozimek said.

But, he added, any ranking includes plenty of guess work.

“In reality,” Ozimek said, “there’s no perfect metro.”

South Florida’s bid includes eight potential sites, with five in Miami-Dade County, two in Broward County and one in Palm Beach County.