Cerabino: Special delivery required to lure Amazon to South Florida


I’m concerned we might not be doing enough to lure Amazon to build its new headquarters in South Florida.

The online retailing giant announced plans to build a second headquarters, dubbed HQ2, somewhere in North America as it expands beyond its base in Seattle.

The company’s second headquarters would be home to 50,000 new employees with annual incomes of more than $100,000. And they’d be working in 8 million square feet of office space that would be part of a $5 billion development, the company announced.

Let the groveling begin.

More than 150 cities responded, including a South Florida bid submitted jointly by the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance in Broward County, and The Beacon Council in Miami-Dade County.

Other cities are coming up with novel ways of pitching themselves to Amazon and its founder Jeff Bezos.

The Atlanta suburb of Stonecrest has offered to de-annex its own land to create a new city called “Amazon.” The mayor of Kansas City, Missouri, bought a thousand Amazon products online and gave them five-star reviews in hopes of currying favor. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has offered free Primanti Brothers sub sandwiches to Amazon employees if the headquarters is built there.

Clearly, we have to do something more than writing a warm letter of introduction.

This may take prostitutes, unmarked bills in brown paper bags and mountains of cocaine.

Luckily, this is South Florida. We have plenty of experts in this area. Many of them still at large. Some of them still in office.

We can sort out the ethics of all this later. We have the mother of all corporate welfare opportunities here, and it would be a shame to balk at a time when bold action is required.

To paraphrase the line from Jaws: “We’re going to need a bigger boatload of incentives.”

For example, would it be legal to change the diamond lanes on I-95 to “Amazon lanes” — marked with painted shopping carts — that would be dedicated to their employers getting back and forth to work? Just wondering.

Amazon did say something about looking for a place with great public transportation. Can we get the Brightline tracks to go to wherever their headquarters lands? I don’t think sending Amazon the PalmTran bus schedule is going to impress them.

And the company did say something about wanting great schools too. OK, who do we have to see to hack into the Florida Standards Assessments grades?

Is that wrong? That’s not the right question.

We’re in competition with New York, Denver, Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, St. Louis, San Diego, Portland, Nashville, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto, Calgary … OK, just about every urban area in North America, including Gary, Indiana.

We’re not the only Florida contestant either: Orlando, Tampa, and Jacksonville are in the hunt too.

Who knows what all these cities will do? With this kind of money on the table they’re bound to be desperate.

Tucson, Arizona, mailed Amazon a 21-foot saguaro cactus. Tampa’s bound to send Hooters girls bearing chicken wings.

We need to get something in the mail to Amazon.

Stone crabs, maybe. Or better yet, get Pitbull to deliver them in person on a bed of Mar-a-Lago Club membership dues.

There must be some way we can be the most alluring bachelorette to Amazon’s bachelor.

We can’t play hard to get. That’s already been taken by Little Rock, Arkansas.

Little Rock applied to be a location for Amazon’s headquarters and then publicly announced it was no longer interested. That’s one way to get noticed.

“It’s not you, it’s us,” Little Rock’s full-page ad in the Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post began.

The letter was in the style of a romantic breakup note.

“You want 50,000 employees for your new campus,” it read. “We have a sizable, resourceful workforce, but if we were to concentrate them here, it would be a bummer. Our lack of traffic and ease of getting around would be totally wrecked, and we can’t sacrifice that for you …”

“Amazon, you’ve got so much going for you, and you’ll find what you’re looking for. But it’s just not us.”

Clever move. Why didn’t we think of that!



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