TAMPA — Was it a moment of irrational exuberance?
Top Tampa economic development leader Craig Richard on Wednesday was most unhappy to learn secondhand — after agreeing to give a luncheon speech this Friday at the Centre Club — why he was allegedly forced to cancel his appearance.
An online flyer issued by the Centre Club "Thought Leaders" group that had invited Richard claims his cancellation was "due to active, dynamic negotiations with Amazon senior management to relocate their corporate headquarters and 3,000 jobs to Tampa."
Wrong, wrong — "wrong on so many levels," says an exasperated Richard, CEO of the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. "I have no earthly idea how they came up with that fantasy conclusion. I am dumbfounded."
Tampa Bay's in a hotly contested race with dozens if not hundreds of metro areas to land Seattle retailing giant Amazon's "HQ2" — a second headquarters employing up to 50,000 on a $5 billion corporate campus. But the deadline for Amazon to accept HQ2 proposals is not until Oct. 19, Richard says. No metropolitan area is currently speaking on this matter with senior Amazon execs.
Richard had planned to give his usual speech about how the EDC works and what makes Tampa special. He canceled in part because Friday is the deadline for Tampa Bay's proposal to be sent — not to Amazon, but to Enterprise Florida. That's the state economic development partner that will, in turn, ship Tampa Bay's proposal (along with other proposals from Miami and Orlando to Jacksonville) to Amazon before Oct. 19.
A second flyer emailed Wednesday by John Nelson of the Thought Leaders group sought to correct and apologize for the "misinformation" sent in the first flyer.
No word on whether Richard will reschedule his remarks.