Amazon HQ2 bid deadline is today; Detroit, Grand Rapids both submit proposals

Cities excited for showcase opportunity

DETROIT - Dan Gilbert has been incredibly vocal about his aspirations to bring Amazon's second headquarters to Detroit or at least the Detroit area. 

Gilbert launched a hype video this past month showcasing the region and its people. Thursday marks the final day to submit proposals to Amazon. 

The details of the Detroit proposal being submitted to Amazon are not known. However, there is regional cooperation and likely several locations on the pitch list, including the site of the old Northland Mall in Southfield. 

Detroit's bid is a joint bid with Windsor, making it the only bi-national bid Amazon likely will receive. The second Amazon headquarters -- wherever it is -- will bring an investment of $5 billion and 50,000 high-paying jobs averaging about $100,000 a year. 

Gilbert told CNBC that Detroit can accommodate an Amazon headquarters immediately. That 30-second video is gaining praise. But there are plenty of obstacles to choosing Detroit, such as poor crime statistics, no mass transit and poor inner city schools. Still, the video showcases a Detroit many outside of the state may not know exists.

Longtime Detroit business owner Harry Kefalonitis gives Gilbert credit for the video and the sales pitch.

"This changes how people look at us; this is too big not to win," Kefalonitis said.

Detroit and Grand Rapids both are submitting bids to Amazon. Michigan's governor's letter to Amazon will say both cities are great options. The two Michigan cities are amid dozens across the United States. Even if they lose out on the bid, both cities see this as an opportunity to grab the attention of other businesses. 

Amazon has been very specific about what kind of space and region its looking for. The company said a decision will be made sometime in 2018. 

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Amazon headquarters preference

Amazon announced its search for a second headquarters back on Setp. 7. 

"We expect HQ2 to be a full equal to our Seattle headquarters,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO. "Amazon HQ2 will bring billions of dollars in up-front and ongoing investments, and tens of thousands of high-paying jobs. We’re excited to find a second home."

The company released this list of preferences:

  • Metropolitan areas with more than one million people
  • A stable and business-friendly environment
  • Urban or suburban locations with the potential to attract and retain strong technical talent
  • Communities that think big and creatively when considering locations and real estate options
  • An urban or downtown campus
  • A similar layout to Amazon’s Seattle campus
  • A development-prepped site. We want to encourage states and communities to think creatively for viable real estate options, while not negatively affecting our preferred timeline.

Detroit and Grand Rapids check off some of the items on the list. Amazon wants this second headquarters to be a lot like its Seattle HQ which occupies 33 buildings for a total 8.1 million square feet. In Seattle, Amazon is committed to public transportation. The company said it pays $43 million to the public transit system because its employees benefit from it. 

A lack of strong public transportation in Detroit and Grand Rapids definitely is a strike against the Michigan cities. 

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