Following months of competition, Amazon released a short list of 20 cities Thursday as potential locations for its second headquarters, “Amazon HQ2.” Despite encouragement from Mark Schlissel, president of the University of Michigan, Detroit did not make the list.
“We’re a research machine with an enormous array of faculty doing work of relevance to the types of businesses that Amazon is in,” Schlissel stated in an interview with The Detroit News in September. “And, we’re a source of educated talent for whom Amazon here in Michigan might be an employer of choice.”
Amazon seeks to invest $5 billion into its second headquarters and expects the headquarters “to be a full equal to our Seattle headquarters,” CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement.
Amazon sought locations fitting specific criteria including being within two miles of a major highway, access to mass transit, proximity to a top university and being within 45 minutes of an international airport. While the headquarters do not need to be located in an urban area, it had to meet the aforementioned criteria. An offer of potential business incentives such as tax exemptions or relocation grants was an additional consideration Amazon took into account.
A location in Michigan, specifically near Detroit, fit many of these qualifications. Amazon HQ2 in Detroit would create about 50,000 high-paying jobs and contribute billions of dollars into the local economy, according to Amazon. The Detroit Mayor’s office stated the city would be evaluating the potential of the office. Gov. Rick Snyder of Michigan was a proponent of Amazon HQ2 in Detroit.
“Not only is Michigan a top-10 state for doing business and attracting 25 to 34 year-olds, our workforce is growing at a higher rate than the national average and we lead the region in inbound migration for those with bachelor’s degrees or higher,” Snyder said in a statement.
Following the announcement of Amazon’s decision not to consider Detroit, Snyder released a statement expressing disappointment as well as encouragement and excitement for Detroit’s future.
“It’s disappointing we will not be welcoming a new Amazon headquarters to Detroit, but appreciate their continued investment and expansion in Michigan, including right in the heart of our Comeback City,” Snyder said. “Michigan’s spirit is unstoppable, and so is our comeback. This won’t set us back- we’re accelerating to the next opportunity. We know it’s out there.”
Other cities still in consideration include Bezos’s hometown Miami, Atlanta and Washington, D.C. and its metropolitan area. Amazon received proposals from 238 communities and will now work with the remaining 20 locations to decide on the best location for the company. A final decision is expected in 2018.