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Windsor may join Detroit pitch for Amazon headquarters, making it an international bid By Frank Witsil

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Windsor may be joining a Detroit bid for a second Amazon.com headquarters in North America, a move that the Windsor Star called "a game-changer."

Moreover, in a new twist, there's now a question whether Amazon would leave Seattle at all.

Seattle's new mayor, Bruce Harrell, who filled the role after former Mayor Ed Murray resigned last week, issued an executive order on Friday that sets up a task force urging Amazon to stay in Seattle and build HQ2 there, Seattle officials confirmed.

Still, the addition of a Canadian city to Detroit's proposal would help it apart from others by making it an international pitch. It also could help boost Detroit chances as it compete's with Toronto, what some consider the leading Canadian contender.

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens is expected to meet this week with businessman Dan Gilbert, who Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan asked to put together a bid on the project for the city, to discuss a binational proposal, according to the Windsor Star.

 

Gilbert's organization confirmed Monday in an e-mail to the Free Press that a proposal with Windsor is in the works, but did not offer details, saying only that "most things are still up in the air, but it is something we are exploring!"

Still, early odds by some analysts have put Detroit's chances for selection as a long shot.

Dilkens office did not reply to calls seeking comment.

According to the Star, Windsor initiated joint bid conversations when Dilkens e-mailed Gilbert, and Gilbert responded saying, "It’s funny you contacted me, I was just thinking about contacting you.

Detroit aims to convince the Seattle-based online retailer that the metropolitan area is the best place in North America to put a second corporate headquarters — what it's calling HQ2 — and is expected to put together a proposal that includes multiple locations throughout the region. 

Amazon promises HQ2 will invest $5 billion in construction and create 50,000 jobs. 

Amazon outlined its criteria for considering a new headquarters in several pages of guidelines for cities, setting up a competitive bidding process for metro areas with more than 1 million people, a business-friendly environment, urban or suburban locations and available real estate.

That, according to the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based nonprofit policy organization, narrows the potential metro areas to only about 50 in the United States, and three in Canada.

Amazon has set an Oct. 19 deadline for confidential proposals.

In its analysis, Brookings identified about 20 cities, which included Detroit, that meet the criteria based on air transportation. The nonprofit group also concluded: "Toronto is Canada’s strongest contender."

Amazon's new headquarters jobs, which mostly include computer engineers, are expected to pay between $120,000 and $175,000, and will likely turbo boost development in whatever city it selects, said James Thomson, a former Amazon employee who is now a consultant and author of a book on Amazon.

 

But, Thomson and others have said they are uncertain how a company like Amazon will manage two headquarters, which is highly unusual, and they believe that Detroit may not have enough tech talent to beat out other cities. Amazon is looking for another headquarters, Thomson said, because there simply aren't enough people in Seattle to fill the jobs it has open and the company is running out of space for new offices.

In a New York Times analysis, Detroit — which the Times called a sentimental pick and also suggested would be a big beneficiary if Amazon were to locate here — failed to make the cut because labor data showed there just wasn't enough job growth.

The Times whittled its list to Boston, Washington, and Denver, with Denver winning.

Meanwhile, however, Amazon is building operations in Detroit.

It confirmed last week it is opening a 1-million-square-foot warehouse and hiring 1,000 more people in Shelby Township, an announcement that was met with praise — and criticism. The new warehouse is part of Amazon's plan to add a cluster of large and small distribution centers in southeast Michigan.

Amazon's first large distribution center in the state, a 1-million square foot warehouse in Livonia, is expected to create up to 1,500 jobs and open in the fall. Amazon already has a small center in Brownstown, and other centers are slated for Hazel Park and Romulus.

The Shelby Township center is expected to bring Amazon’s workforce in Michigan to more than 3,500.

A fear from Amazon critics, however, is that the retail juggernaut — a competitor to traditional retailers — will eventually destroy more jobs than it creates.

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