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Pete Antonacci: Amazon proposals ‘incentive-bearing’ as possible

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Enterprise Florida CEO Pete Antonacci said Thursday that pursuit of a new east coast headquarters planned by Amazon is his organization’s top priority right now, as the state’s economic development corporation coordinates bids from at least four different Sunshine State cities and encourages them to emphasize tax giveaway incentives.

Speaking to the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s 2017 Future of Florida Forum in Orlando Thursday, Antonacci said packages including financial incentives are being pulled together in Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa, and South Florida and Enterprise Florida Inc.

Seattle-based Amazon said it wants a second headquarters, probably on the East Coast. Amazon indicated it will spend $5 billion on the new campus and hire as many as 50,000 employees. Yet Amazon has asked for tax breaks and other incentives in its request for proposals, which are due Oct. 19.

“It’s the number one priority in my office and it’s the number one priority in a number of communities around the state,” he said at the chamber’s luncheon. “We are advising as a clearing house and we will submit to Amazon all our proposals that meet basic RFP requirements.

“In the meantime we’re working with those communities very, very closely, to make sure their proposals are as sharp, focused and incentive-bearing as we could possibly be under these circumstances,” he said. “We’ve got some great proposals.”

In Orlando, the Orlando Economic Partnership is leading the way to create a package for Amazon’s consideration, and that organization’s President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Giuliani, attending the forum, sounded encouraged.

He said Orlando’s package will be offering a variety of potential locations to present both urban and suburban settings, and highlight the region’s 80,000 current high-tech jobs, and the $10 billion in transportation infrastructure projects, ranging from a new airport terminal to SunRail commuter train expansion.

“This is a great opportunity for us to showcase for the world what Central Florida has to offer,” Giuliani said later.

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Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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