Jacksonville mayor working on proposal for Amazon's second headquarters

By: Action News Jax

Updated:

Another Amazon headquarters along with 50,000 jobs are up for grabs as the Seattle-based company recently announced it's expanding.

Dozens of cities are competing for the headquarters that could boost the winner's economy by billions of dollars.

Action News Jax reported last week that Jacksonville had its sights on a bid for the headquarters.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry confirmed Friday that his administration is working on a proposal for the headquarters:

“Over the past several years, Amazon has had a growing presence in Jacksonville, bringing a record number of jobs to our city with the establishment of state-of-the art centers and stations. My administration is keenly focused on economic growth and would like to see Amazon’s presence grow. I strongly believe Jacksonville has all the attributes that make for a great place to do business -- including a strong labor force, a low cost of doing business, and a great quality of life.  My team and I are committed to doing everything we can to bring jobs and economic opportunities to Jacksonville; therefore, we are in the process of putting together a proposal to submit for this opportunity.” -Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry

The JAXCHAMBER welcomed Curry's pursuit of Jacksonville as Amazon's second headquarters:

"We applaud Mayor Curry's leadership in pursuing this important opportunity to grow jobs in our community. We have a great story to tell and look forward to assisting the city in any way possible on this proposal." -Matt Galnor, Vice President, Public Affairs, JAXCHAMBER

Enterprise Florida said the state would pursue the opportunity to be home to Amazon's second headquarters, or "HQ2."

"Florida will aggressively pursue this opportunity. As the most strategic location on the eastern seaboard for global commerce and with a strong workforce meeting Amazon’s needs, Florida is an ideal location for HQ2.” -Nathan Edwards, Spokesperson for Enterprise Florida

Amazon would not comment on "HQ2" beyond a press release it issued a few days ago and said cities have until October 19 to submit proposals.

In Seattle, the online retailer estimates it's added $38 billion to the city's economy from 2010 through 2016, and the company’s growing. 

Already in Jacksonville, Amazon has opened a fulfillment center in northern part of the city by the airport and there’s another coming soon to the Cecil Commerce Center. 

Both fulfillment centers will create thousands of jobs for Jacksonville.

According to the company, the winner of the bid would mean an estimated 50,000 jobs over the next 10 to 15 years with an average salary of $100,000.

How does Jacksonville stack up against other cities?

Most major cities like Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Denver are expected to bid for it, but how does Jacksonville stack up?

Space is a crucial factor listed on Amazon’s bid, and Jacksonville has plenty of that.

A business-friendly environment and tax structure are also on the list and with Florida having no state income tax, that is another plus for the River City. 

Quality of life will also be a plus for Jacksonville thanks to weather and waterways.

So where would Jacksonville fall short? Logistics.

Amazon wants daily direct flights to Seattle and San Francisco, which could be added, but could come with other costs.

Does Jacksonville have a large enough qualified labor force?

Another issue is having a large enough labor force qualified to fill the estimated 50,000 jobs. 

The jobs would include executive and management positions and engineering with a preference for software development engineers. 

“Awesome!” said Dr. April Murdaugh, a professor of logistics and supply chain management at Florida State College at Jacksonville.

Murdaugh said FSCJ already works to design programs and internships to prepare students for what Jacksonville companies need.

"They get first-hand experience at a cooperation," Murdaugh said.

Sherif Elfayoumy, Ph.D. and Director of the School of Computing at the University of North Florida is also confident.

“The education and potential that exists here might be very attractive,” Elfayoumy said. " ... One-hundred percent placement rate for the best of three years within six months of graduation, meaning our students graduate with multiple job offers in hand."

Elfayoumy said the university has already been contacted about how it can help meet the workforce demand.

“The Board of Governors reached out to the university to see how the university would help a bid to help attract Amazon to have their second headquarters here in the state of Florida,” Elfayoumy said.

Bruce Ferguson, president of CareerSource Northeast Florida, said this partnership with colleges would be essential to fill the jobs that Amazon's HQ2 would bring:

“…the 50,000 jobs would come over at least a 10-year period and so far, there isn’t a lot of specific detail on the specific job types and associated numbers of those jobs. Certainly one critical area for Amazon will be software engineers and developers. As a corporate headquarters, there will also be all varieties of executive professions such as accounting, finance, legal, IT and the associated support staff for those areas. Given the scope of this project, it will require partnerships with colleges and universities throughout the state in order to begin to provide the talent that Amazon requires. It is also clear that Amazon will recruit talent from around the country and the world to fill its needs.  The link below is from a Wall Street Journal article about how Amazon is disrupting the MBA recruitment process.
 
https://www.wsj.com/articles/forget-wall-street-m-b-a-s-want-to-work-for-amazon-1507114801 
 
"It will be critical for all of our educational entities from K-12 through post-graduate universities to work together to ensure we are developing the right skill sets in graduates so they are ready for Amazon HQ jobs. Having a robust, quality and coordinated education system will also be important for us and Amazon to be able to attract the talent that we don’t provide locally. Quality of life factors (education, housing, recreation, etc.) will be a huge part of being able to land a project like Amazon HQ2.

"As the regional workforce organization, CareerSource Northeast Florida stands ready to play a key role in attracting and developing the talent needed, just as we have for Amazon's fulfillment and logistics centers that are currently hiring for facility startups.”

- Bruce Ferguson, Jr., President, CareerSource Northeast Florida

Finally, it will come down to which city will offer up the most attractive deal.

Amazon says it will make a decision on HQ2 next year.

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