Today, Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) sent the following letter to Jeffrey P. Bezos, CEO of Amazon Inc. asking for his consideration of the Florida Glades region as a location for a future Amazon distribution center. (Please also find a copy of the letter attached):
August 16, 2013
Jeffrey P. Bezos
Chief Executive Officer
440 Terry Avenue North
Seattle, Washington 98109
Dear Mr. Bezos,
I was pleased to read of Amazon Inc.'s commitment to creating jobs and focus on employee success. Your commitment to the community is truly admirable. For instance, the Career Choice program offers to pay up to 95 percent of eligible employees' tuition regardless of whether the skills are directly relevant to a career at Amazon, and is a testament to your good business practice of investing in people. With your leadership, Amazon has become renowned as the model for success in Internet sales, ranking highest in the world as the largest retailer on the World Wide Web.
I write to ask that you consider locating one of your future Amazon Inc. distribution centers in the Florida Glades (i.e. Belle Glade, Pahokee, and South Bay), which is an area of my Congressional district that I am privileged to represent.
The Glades is an ideal place for your company to continue its growth. Transportation and access to different modes of delivery are plentiful, from highway interstates, to our ports, rail, and airports. Florida is home to over 15 seaports that boast a reputation of excellence in the world of international trade. In combination with our expedient airport locations, Florida's infrastructure is ideal for growth in the business sector, and will see a successful future through public-private partnerships with companies such as yours.
In particular, Southwest Florida International Airport, located in South Fort Myers, is a prime location with untapped potential for importing or exporting goods. While the airport predominantly focuses on passenger traffic, UPS and FedEx have regularly utilized this space. There is immense, untapped potential for development of a major air cargo terminal, and the Fort Myers Regional Partnership reports that the airport has over 1,100 acres of land available for commercial expansion. Moreover, the Airport's Fast Facts brochure notes that the entire airport is designated as a Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ), which would offer a number of potential Customs advantages to local importers/exporters that choose to locate at the airport. This investment has significant local economic incentives, and would serve well in returns to your company.
Additionally, Florida has embarked on a number of rail expansion projects aiming to improve service to the state's seaports. Port Everglades will soon be able to serve huge volumes of rail traffic thanks in part to the 30-year lease with the Florida East Coast Railway LLC (FEC) to build and operate the port intermodal container transfer facility (ICTF). Port Miami, in partnership with state, federal and private-sector partners is investing over $2 billion in major improvements to support cargo and cruise growth. The program includes large projects such as the access tunnel under Biscayne Bay, deep dredging the channel, and restored rail service. In Tampa, the Gateway Rail Project, completed in 2012 is a $10.9-million joint initiative by Tampa Port Authority, CSX Corporation, and Kinder Morgan Energy Partners. This was the first on-dock unit train facility in Florida and the multi-purpose design was aimed at ensuring that it could handle ethanol cars or intermodal containers.
While agriculture has historically dominated the local economy of the Glades, I believe that we must work to create more contemporary opportunities for the people of this region. Historically, cities such as Belle Glade and Pahokee, located on the shore of Lake Okeechobee in Palm Beach County, prided themselves on the vast businesses that catered to both the local community and tourists in the form of hotels, restaurants, and boutiques. The potential for this type of economic boom still exists and will thrive to greater levels with investments by companies such as Amazon.com, Inc. Since I came to the United States Congress, just over 20 years ago, I have committed myself to the betterment of our nation, in Florida and beyond. It is my belief that when private and public sectors work together to create opportunities for people, we will see much success across our nation.
I thank you for consideration of my request, and look forward to speaking with you in greater detail at your earliest convenience. I can be reached at 202-225-1313.
Alcee L. Hastings
Member of Congress
Congressman Alcee L. Hastings serves as Senior Member of the House Rules Committee, Ranking Democratic Member of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and Co-Chairman of the Florida Delegation.