Tuesday, July 17, 2018
News Roundup

Romano: Can someone please give us a good review on Amazon?

Here’s what the critics have to say about Tampa Bay:

Nothing.

Not a snark, not a critique, not a peep.

The websites, magazines, Realtors and bankers who have been breathlessly handicapping the Amazon headquarters sweepstakes haven’t even bothered to insult Tampa Bay. Apparently, we are that inconsequential. If this were Casablanca, we would be Peter Lorre to Amazon’s Humphrey Bogart.

"You despise me, don’t you?’’ Lorre asks.

"If I gave you any thought, I probably would,’’ Bogart replies.

And, yes, Tampa Bay was always going to be a long shot to be the home of Amazon’s second headquarters, dubbed HQ2. For the record, 238 cities submitted bids, making the odds steep for any market.

Moody’s Analytics mentions Austin, Texas; Atlanta and Philadelphia in its top tier of contenders. The New York Times had Denver; Portland, Ore.; and Boston on the short list. Inc. magazine talked about Raleigh, N.C.; Washington, D.C.; and Detroit. Business Insider included Cincinnati, Memphis and Nashville. CNN Tech chose Pittsburgh, Toronto and Dallas in its top eight.

Others touted New York, Chicago and Orange County in California. If you’re a gambler, you could place bets of 16-to-1 on Rochester, N.Y., or 100-to-1 on Halifax, Nova Scotia, with oddsmakers. But if you want to bet on Tampa Bay, apparently you need a bookie with an atlas.

So, is this a public relations disaster? Of course not. Nobody thought Tampa Bay would be a serious contender, so it’s hard to take anyone’s indifference as a slight.

But shouldn’t we be asking ourselves why?

Why is such a large market — with more than 3 million people we are one of the top 20 metropolitan statistical areas — seemingly an afterthought when it comes to major business expansion?

We’ve got a world-class airport. Cost of living is relatively low. The state has a business-friendly governor and Legislature. We certainly excel in quality-of-life categories such as weather and beaches.

Perhaps the answer is we’ve never invested in ourselves.

Tampa Bay trails virtually every similar-sized market when it comes to mass transportation, and funding for public education in Florida is near the bottom of the nation. Cities with close access to nationally recognized tech universities also seem to do well in these market critiques.

Those seem like kind of important topics, don’t they?

And so it makes sense if corporations prefer markets with an emphasis on necessities instead of amenities.

Jason Horwitz is an analyst at the Anderson Economic Group and recently co-authored an index paper based on some of the measurable preferences Amazon is seeking. Tampa Bay ranked 27th of the 35 markets that the index determined fit Amazon’s criteria.

"It’s not that Tampa does terribly in a lot of those categories, it’s just a little below average,’’ he said. "The lack of public transit infrastructure is one of the big problems. People in Florida drive everywhere, and Amazon specifically mentioned having public transportation.

"Amazon hasn’t specifically said this, but it’s reasonable to think they’re looking for a market that will attract the best talent in the world for the next 40 to 50 years.’’

Sounds like the kind of place anyone would want to live. Perhaps Tampa Bay might want to consider that.

Comments
Florida teen with peanut allergy dies after eating Chips Ahoy! cookie

Florida teen with peanut allergy dies after eating Chips Ahoy! cookie

A 15-year-old Florida girl with a peanut allergy died last month after she ate what she believed to be regular Chips Ahoy! Chewy cookies.Alexi Ryann Stafford, of Weston, was at a friend’s house when she grabbed the cookie while the re-sealable top of...
Updated: 8 minutes ago
He walked 20 miles to work after his car broke down. His boss bought him a new one.

He walked 20 miles to work after his car broke down. His boss bought him a new one.

PELHAM, Ala. — An Alabama college student whose car broke down just before his first day of work made the 20-mile (32-kilometer) journey on foot, a feat that earned him fame — and a new car. News outlets report that hours before his first day working...
Updated: 9 minutes ago

Updated: 13 minutes ago
Watch this bicyclist ignore barriers, fall into gap on Wisconsin draw bridge

Watch this bicyclist ignore barriers, fall into gap on Wisconsin draw bridge

MENASHA, Wis. — Police say a bicyclist who weaved past the gates blocking access to a bridge over a river in eastern Wisconsin escaped serious injury after falling into the gap that was created when the bridge started to rise. Wisconsin Department of...
Updated: 14 minutes ago
Video: Woman snatches purse out of motorized scooter in Largo

Video: Woman snatches purse out of motorized scooter in Largo

LARGO — Police detectives are searching for two women accused of snatching a purse from a 53-year-old woman on a motorized shopping cart.They pair were identified as Tanesha Gary, 36, and Shanan Diaz, 38. Largo police said there is probable cause to ...
Updated: 18 minutes ago
MLB commissioner confident Rays owner is ‘going to get’ stadium deal done

MLB commissioner confident Rays owner is ‘going to get’ stadium deal done

WASHINGTON – Acknowledging both the challenges and urgency to work out a public-private financing plan, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred on Tuesday expressed extreme confidence in Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg to make a de...
Updated: 22 minutes ago
SEC media days: Dan Mullen on quarterbacks battle and transfers

SEC media days: Dan Mullen on quarterbacks battle and transfers

ATLANTA — The Florida Gators are up this afternoon at SEC media days. A few highlights from an early session with coach Dan Mullen and offensive lineman Martez Ivey, defensive lineman Cece Jefferson and linebacker David Reese:Mullen had no...
Updated: 26 minutes ago
Hard Rock announces new hotel in Ireland in 2020

Hard Rock announces new hotel in Ireland in 2020

Hard Rock International is expanding across the pond. The Seminole Tribe-owned casino and hotel chain announced Tuesday that it will open a Hard Rock Hotel Dublin in 2020, its first hotel in Ireland. It will partner with Irish hotel company Tifco Lim...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Louisiana shipbuilder hopes to bring 1,000 jobs to Tampa shipyard through Coast Guard icebreaker program

Louisiana shipbuilder hopes to bring 1,000 jobs to Tampa shipyard through Coast Guard icebreaker program

TAMPA — Tampa could welcome the arrival of more than 1,000 new shipbuilding jobs if Louisiana-based Bollinger Shipyards wins a major contract to build up to six Coast Guard polar icebreakers.The contract would mean filling Bollinger’s production faci...
Updated: 1 hour ago
SWAT team, K-9’s and bomb squad drill at Strawberry Crest High to prevent next mass shooting

SWAT team, K-9’s and bomb squad drill at Strawberry Crest High to prevent next mass shooting

DOVER — Carlos Gonzalez, the head of custodians at Strawberry Crest High School, sat in his golf cart Tuesday morning as the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s aerial unit circled in a helicopter above, casting long, jagged shadows on the football field b...
Updated: 1 hour ago