Why should Amazon pick the Tampa Bay Area for its new HQ?

Why should Amazon pick the Tampa Bay Area for new HQ2?

Tampa Bay’s diverse, creative class driven economy is ready to exceed the expectations of Amazon’s needs. Our community provides a well-educated workforce and a business community focused on growing existing businesses and attracting new ones that will support Amazon’s growth in our market. Our world class sea port, international airport and transportation network provides Amazon with “Day One” resources to meet its needs for both its employees and its customers. -- Mike Griffin, Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce
Tampa Bay is Florida's largest and fastest-growing tech hub. Tampa Bay is the nation's 27th largest and 2nd fastest-growing tech hub. Tampa Bay is home to one out of every 89 tech workers, a bigger claim than half the states in the nation. Tampa Bay is home to the most female tech talent in the state, with females representing a greater portion of our tech workforce than San Francisco, Seattle, Austin and numerous other tech hubs. Tampa Bay is uniquely positioned to take advantage of the one million plus students in higher education within a half-day drive radius. Tampa Bay is architecting, building and maintaining tech that powers over half a trillion in annual revenues and over a trillion in market capitalization. Tampa Bay has one of the most awarded and admired airports in the country, which is growing as we speak. Tampa Bay is the right choice for Amazon. -- Daniel James Scott, Tampa Bay Technology Forum

Having Amazon in the Tampa Bay region would be the perfect addition to a region that is rewriting its economic DNA. Having recently been ranked the number one city in America where people are moving according to RealEstate.com, our diverse background, matched with endless entertainment options, cultural venues and unique neighborhoods provide a perfect backdrop to attract the best and brightest talent from across the globe. We look forward to aggressively showcasing and highlighting this great region with our friends from across the bay and look forward to being a part of the selection process. -- Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn

We would welcome the Amazon family here in the Tampa Bay area with open arms. As the 4th fastest growing job market in the country, I’m confident they will hit the ground running. The communities I serve in particular are diverse, dedicated, hard-working and represent all of the values that make a great employee. This will be an opportunity to be a part of a Tampa Bay culture that is striving to be the economic hub of the future. Amazon could be a part of that. -- State Rep. Sean Shaw of Tampa

As a research university president, I care deeply about the economic opportunities and growth of the region. This is an enormous opportunity for Tampa Bay with 50,000 new jobs. This could lead to high-speed rail, which would propel economic development in this region to new heights. Attracting Amazon would be a major national and international coup that would bring recognition and even more vitality to the Tampa Bay region. I could not be more enthusiastic about this opportunity. -- Judy Genshaft, University of South Florida

Tampa Bay is a fast-growing region on the rise, offering an affordable, superb quality of life unmatched by other metro areas of our size across the country. More importantly, the Tampa Bay area has everything Amazon needs to recruit and retain the best and brightest talent for its new headquarters -- starting with the University of South Florida, a top public research university with the region’s only academic health sciences center. USF proactively engages with a pro-business community to support innovation, economic development and entrepreneurship. We graduate first-rate engineers, computer scientists and other enterprising millennials who would love to work for a tech giant like Amazon. We are also home to the Florida Center for Cybersecurity and designated a National Center for Academic Excellence in Cyberdefense, focused on reducing vulnerability in the information infrastructure. By locating here, Amazon would have the unique opportunity to tap into the amenities of Water Street Tampa, a vibrant $3-billion urban, multi-use real estate project being planned by Strategic Property Partners, a joint venture of Cascade Investment, LLC, and Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik. The new USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute facility, on track to open in winter 2019, will be a key anchor of this dynamic, walkable downtown district expected to attract more high-tech and biomedical companies to the region. -- Edmund F. Funai, MD., USF Health

We know and appreciate that Amazon values collaboration with the entire community, including the nonprofit sector. We have a healthy, vibrant nonprofit environment that is fully engaged with business, government and philanthropy leaders to address complex community issues. An example: LEAP is a multi-organization college access and attainment effort on track to increase the number of working adults with college degrees or quality credentials to 60 percent by 2025. The Tampa Bay Area also has a growing number of nonprofit social enterprise endeavors that enhance the business environment while meeting the needs of the nonprofit’s clients. For instance, Metropolitan Ministries’ Inside the Box provides restaurant and catering services to businesses while training the formerly homeless for jobs to get them on the road to prosperity. And the Louise Graham Regeneration Center’s vast Secure Shred operation trains and employs developmentally disabled adults, providing a vital service to the region’s businesses while offering independence and a better life for the clients it serves. These cross-sector collaborations foster a growth mentality throughout Tampa Bay. -- Marlene Spalten, Community Foundation of Tampa Bay

Amazon seeks a highly educated, creative and imaginative workforce. Research has shown overwhelmingly that the quality of cultural amenities that a community can provide is critically important to attracting and retaining these kinds of individuals. The Tampa Bay Area is blessed to have a broad array of cultural opportunities to offer. From performing arts, to visual arts, to an extraordinary array of festivals -- both sides of the Bay provide a vibrant and diverse menu of offerings -- and a cultural vitality that is second to none. -- Martine Meredith Collier, Arts Council of Hillsborough County

Here are 5 reasons the Tampa Bay Area is the perfect, if not unconventional, pick for Amazon: 
  1. World renowned University: Dr. Judy Genshaft is recognized as the most dynamic University President in America. The University Of South Florida is a top 25 Research Institution, ranked #5 for Public University Patent production in America. The University graduates a record number of first generation college students and anchors the emerging Innovation District.  
  2. Transportation: Our world renowned Tampa International Airport is 5 minutes from downtown and they are building a 1.4 mile “people mover.” Our public transportation agency, HART, launched HyperLINK, the first public / private pilot transit project partnering with FDOT and !p. Our community might be frugal to a fault for having not invested in a big, expensive, fixed guideway system but the University’s Center for Public Transportation & Research is now partnering with our MPO and FDOT to examine new disruptive AV technologies that will enable Tampa Bay to leapfrog the other metros. So our frugality might just pay off. 
  3. Our local leaders think big, smart & bold: Our Mayor, Tampa City Council and Hillsborough County Commission have jettisoned past infighting and now work together to get big things done from supporting our multibillion dollar airport expansion to building a downtown USF medical school.
  4. We have an energized business community and sharp young leaders: Our 3 major business centers, Westshore, Downtown and the University Area (!p),  are led by an engaged business community committed to creating the right atmosphere for new business development. The Chamber’s Emerge Tampa Bay is the top young professionals group in America. 
  5.  In Tampa Bay, every day is Day 1. We are hungrier than the other metros. -- Mark Sharpe, !p POTENTIAL UNLEASHED
Although there are many decision factors, workforce and community culture will play a big role. The Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metro region offers a workforce that is experiencing some of the highest growth in the country. That growth is being driven by innovative and highly skilled individuals moving to our area and staying here after graduating from universities. Our culture is defined by creativity and collaboration. These factors will resonate with Amazon and give them reason to believe that they can be wildly successful in the Tampa Bay Area. -- J.P. DuBuque, Greater St. Petersburg Area Economic Development Corporation

Great city!
  • Taxes — No city/state taxes
  • Labor force — Great talent and no union issues
  • Cost of living — Modest
  • Housing — Affordable
  • Beautiful weather — Where else can you play golf in December/January?
  • Education — Community colleges and USF
  • Entertainment — Football/ice hockey/baseball
WHAT MORE CAN YOU ASK FOR????????? -- Dr. Kiran Patel, Freedom Health; TiE Tampa Bay

Bringing Amazon’s headquarters to the Tampa Bay Area would further solidify the region’s entrepreneurial spirit of innovation, creativity and growth. In Hillsborough County, our high quality of life and business friendly environment will enable Amazon to recruit the talent they need, including drawing from one of the largest veteran workforces in the country. The future is bright here in Tampa Bay, and we look forward to working with our partners to build that future together. — Hillsborough County Commission Chairman Stacy White

The Tampa Bay Area has evolved to become an economic powerhouse of Florida, and the changing demographic favorably appeals to a generation of educated, ambitious and dynamic professionals who desire to impact the business community in a meaningful way. As our city continues to transform into one that is known to attract STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) professions, there is no better time for Amazon to be part of the leading edge of this evolutionary process. The growth and the spirit of Tampa Bay continues to be conducive to a healthy, balanced environment for businesses and families. Amazon’s expansion to Tampa Bay would be an accretive and valued addition to our city.  -- Punit Shah, Liberty Group 

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Read more articles by Diane Egner.

Diane Egner is an award-winning journalist with more than three decades of experience writing about the Tampa Bay region. She is a member of Leadership Florida and the Athena Society, and serves on the board of The Institute for Research in Art (Graphicstudio, the Contemporary Art Museum, and USF’s Public Art Program) Community Advisory Council. A graduate of the University of Minnesota with a BA in journalism, she won the top statewide award for editorial writing from the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors while at The Tampa Tribune and received special recognition by the Tampa Bay Association of Black Journalists for creative work as Content Director at WUSF Public Broadcasting. Past accomplishments and community service include leadership positions with Awesome Tampa Bay, Arts Council of Hillsborough County, Alpha House of Tampa Bay, Florida Kinship Center, AIA Tampa Bay, Powerstories, and the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. She lives in South Tampa, is the mother of two adult daughters and grandmother to two amazing grandchildren, and travels whenever possible with laptop in tow.
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