Amazon wants to build a second headquarters that will create 50,000 jobs and a $5 billion capital investment in the community that lures the company. The News Journal reports FloridaWest is submitting a proposal, and Mayor Ashton Hayward will mostly likely appear on WEAR TV tonight touting it.
It’s time for a reality check.
Pensacola doesn’t fit much of the criteria in the Request for Proposal – metro population of more than 1 million, mass transit, walkable community, a stable and business-friendly environment, and urban or suburban locations with the potential to attract and retain strong technical talent.
The Pensacola MSA has half that population. ECAT is slowly being reduced or dismantled by the Board of County Commissioners. We don’t have the infrastructure –housing, public schools and roads – to accommodate 50,000 people. Check out the congestion that Navy Federal Credit Union and its 10,000 jobs have caused and multiply it by five.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Pensacola MSA had 215,100 people working in August. The Amazon HQ would increase that by 23 percent.
The Phase 1 of the headquarters calls for more than 500,000 sq. ft. When the entire project is completed, the total square football will be up to 8 million.
What are the other things Amazon is looking for:
Capital and Operating Costs – A stable and business-friendly environment and tax structure will be high-priority considerations for the Project. Incentives offered by the state/province and local communities to offset initial capital outlay and ongoing operational costs will be significant factors in the decision-making process.
Incentives – Identify incentive programs available for the Project at the state/province and local levels. Outline the type of incentive (i.e. land, site preparation, tax credits/exemptions, relocation grants, workforce grants, utility incentives/grants, permitting, and fee reductions) and the amount. The initial cost and ongoing cost of doing business are critical decision drivers.
Labor Force – The Project includes significant employment requirements at the threshold compensation levels described herein and with corresponding educational attainment of the available workforce. The Project must be sufficiently close to a significant population center, such that it can fill the 50,000 estimated jobs that will be required over multiple years. A highly educated labor pool is critical and a strong university system is required.
Logistics – Personnel travel and logistics needs, both from population centers to the Project site, as well as between company facilities, are critically important. As such, travel time to a major highway corridor and arterial roadway capacity potential are key factors. The highway corridors must provide direct access to significant population centers with eligible employment pools. Travel time to an international airport with daily direct flights to Seattle, New York, San Francisco/Bay Area, and Washington, D.C. is also an important consideration.
Other communities have made a decision not to submit a proposal, such as Mobile, Ala. and San Jose, Calif.
Leigh Perry-Herndon of the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce told AL.com, “It was decided Mobile did not meet the criteria Amazon required and our resources would be better spent on other projects.”
The mayor of San Jose, Sam Liccardo, also isn’t interested. He wrote in the Wall Street Journal, “For San Jose, large corporate subsidies have become a relic of the past. And happily so.”
Steve Chapman of the Chicago Tribune wrote in his column,”The governments that want the facility will have to take part in a merciless bidding war that will extract every nickel they have to spend, if not more.”
He warned, “After the decision is made and Amazon arrives, many cities will be sorry they lost and one will be sorry it won. And every city will know its puke point.”