Congressman Neal Dunn advocating for Hurricane Michael-ravaged Florida Panhandle as new home for Amazon

Feb 18, 2019

Wouldn’t this be a welcome headline for the Panama City Beach, Florida area?  Still recovering from the devastating impacts of Hurricane Michael, Congressman Neal Dunn posed a longshot idea that Amazon should locate its secondary headquarters in Florida’s Panhandle now that they gave up on New York.  He touted the area’s telecom infrastructure, ports, interstates, rail transportation, schools and quality workforce.

To some, this effort from the newly elected Congressman, might provide some relief from the continuing challenges the Panama City area was dealt by Hurricane Michael.  Billions of dollars of insurance claims have been made, but many homeowners are experiencing additional damage from the heavy rains and below freezing weather while others are finding that their insurance companies did not properly adjust their claims and that the proceeds are inadequate to pay for repairs and restoration.

Some are now learning that is may be possible to either reopen their insurance claim in the form of a supplemental claim, but many have grown frustrated and are disputing their Hurricane Michael home insurance claims in the courts by filing lawsuits.

Only time will tell just how serious Amazon takes Congressman Neal’s overture or just how many Panama city Beach, Florida residents will resolve their differences with their Florida insurance companies.

Congressman Neal Dunn pushes for Amazon consideration of Panama City/Tallahassee HQ

In letter Friday, Dunn said Hurricane Michael devastated the Panhandle and North Florida is rebuilding “better than ever.”

Panama City’s Urologist Neal Dunn is the newly-elected Republican Congressman from Florida’s 2nd District (Photo11: Neal Dunn)

“I believe that you would find competitively priced real estate located in close proximity to major airports, railroad lines, interstates, or deep water ports like the Port of Panama City (as) an excellent choice for HQ2,” Dunn wrote. 

“Contrary to our counterparts in Queens, elected officials in the Florida Panhandle understand that your investment would drive our community forward and economic opportunity helps those we represent to lead more fulfilling lives.”

He highlighted Verizon’s $25-million investment to make Panama City one of two 5G-capable cities east of Mississippi and the only 5G mobile city in the United States. 

Dunn’s pitch is likely moot. Amazon has said it isn’t reopening a search and plans to add jobs to its new HQ2 site in Arlington, Virginia, a Nashville location and 17 offices and tech hubs already in operation. 

Other Tallahassee officials say Amazon would be welcome in North Florida. 

“We have the educational infrastructure already in place with our outstanding colleges and universities to provide Amazon the high quality workforce they are looking for,” said U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, a Democrat. “This hub would also offer thousands of well-paying jobs to our area. This would be a win-win for all parties.”

A year ago, the idea of landing an Amazon HQ2 was enough to make Tallahassee officials submit a longshot 22-page application. It joined more than 238 cities across North America, vying to become the location for the company’s second headquarters.

Tallahassee offered free land and utilities packages and at least $186 million in tax breaks and perks. The city played the green energy card, offering as an economic incentive 100 percent of the electricity generated by the 20 megawatt, 120-acre solar farm currently under construction at the Tallahassee International Airport.

Cristina Paredes, who heads the Tallahassee-Leon County Office of Economic Vitality, said the area is “an economically competitive community and ready to respond to challenges of any corporation seeking a new home.”

That includes Amazon, she said. 

“We are an innovative and diverse community with a strong talent pool thanks to our higher education institutions,” Paredes said. “We have numerous assets that make it advantageous for selecting Florida’s capital community.” 

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