Amazon’s announcement that it is seeking a location for its second headquarters (HQ2) did more than just cause an “all-in” poker game between cities around the continent. Amazon also opened many eyes to the behind-the-scenes work that economic development organizations do every day.
Amazon received 238 pitches from cities across America, Canada and Mexico after posting a Request for Proposal on its website in September. The RFP outlined its requirements and gave a deadline of October 19. Amazon showed the world how much work, effort and resources is put into competing for jobs and capital investment.
While HQ2 was a bigger project than most, its scale served to elucidate every facet required for a strong economic development proposal: a stable talent pool of workers, strong education system, robust transportation and infrastructure, an attractive cost of doing business as well as an appealing quality of life.
The Orlando Economic Partnership was in a unique position to answer the call from Amazon because of its position as both the community development and economic development organization for the region. The Partnership was already leading conversations about transportation and infrastructure, and connecting the leaders advancing “big ideas”. For this reason, the Partnership brought to the project not only what the Orlando region could offer, but also a vision of what the Orlando region was willing to create to win Amazon’s second headquarters.
Four sites were identified in the region that specifically met Amazon’s criteria that included land to build, Neo-urban areas, the downtown core, and options in between. The Partnership worked closely with each of the site’s stakeholders to consistently tell the Orlando story while also highlighted each of the site’s differing value propositions. Through collaboration with the sites, the Partnership was also able to offer Amazon the ability to configure a multi-site campus.
On everyone’s minds was, “Can Orlando really win a headquarters for a company like Amazon?” Throughout the process, the Partnership demonstrated that yes, Orlando not only met the criteria for an Amazon headquarters, but that Orlando’s talent and infrastructure investment made the region a competitive candidate for HQ2. In fact, the Partnership was leading a media mission to New York City during the bid, resulting in headlines like, “Surprisingly, Orlando Hits Many Items on Amazon’s HQ2 Wishlist” and “Could Amazon call Orlando home? City on list for next global headquarters”.
“We believe we’ve assembled a strong proposal with a powerful argument on why Orlando should be on Amazon’s short list for HQ2,” said Tim Giuliani, president and CEO of the Partnership. “Orlando has been preparing for this for more than a decade. Amazon is a growth company, we are a growth region in a growth state.”
The Partnership research team assessed the economic impact of a project like HQ2 on the region, and determined that a HQ2 in Orlando would result in an estimated 86,575 total jobs generated in 15 years (including 44,000 direct jobs, 26,300 temporary construction jobs and 17,650 management jobs). The team also assessed that state and local tax receipts from economic activity associated directly with Amazon-Orlando are projected to exceed $106.6 million over a 15-year period.
The Partnership delivered a response to Amazon by October 18, 2017. Amazon’s timeline in their Request for Proposal asserted a final site selection and announcement for HQ2 by 2018.