Cover Story: How Miami compares to other possible Amazon HQ2 cities

February 2018

 John Schoettler, Amazon’s head of real estate, gave a few hints about what the company wants from its new headquarters city.

“We look forward to cities that are … progressive and are thinking forward and long term, in terms of affordable housing and mass transportation and being able to move people around,” he said.

That may ding areas where transportation infrastructure isn’t great, including South Florida, which appears on the shortlist under the Miami moniker. Yet a closer look at hard data paints a less clear-cut picture.

Only about 18 percent of people in the tri-county area enjoy a commute of 14 minutes or less, versus 25 percent in Columbus, Ohio, and Pittsburgh. But in the Washington, D.C., and New York metro areas – which are just as expansive as South Florida – only 14 and 16 percent of residents, respectively, have commute times of 14 minutes or less.

In other metrics, South Florida performs less favorably. Its median age of 40.6 years is higher than in many areas, and the portion of adults with bachelor’s degrees – 30.1 percent – is the lowest of the HQ2 contenders.

Ultimately, it’s anyone’s guess which factors Amazon executives will weigh most heavily. In the meantime, the Business Journal has compiled data from all 20 shortlist cities.

Take a look and place your bets.


Vacancy Rate: 16.5%

Vacancy Rate

Occupancy Rate



40.6 years

Median age


Adults with bachelor’s degrees


Commute in 14 minutes or less

HQ2 will be here because … South Florida’s robust airport infrastructure and diverse population would position Amazon to do business beyond the U.S., whether in Europe, the Caribbean or Latin America. Miami has a history when it comes to enticing Amazon, which has so far received $6.5 million in incentives for other area projects.

HQ2 won’t be here because … South Florida has the lowest share of residents with bachelor’s degrees among cities on the shortlist, at 30.1 percent. Add to that rough commutes due to clogged roadways and a hampered mass-transit system, and Miami seems less attractive.

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