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Amazon HQ2

Governor Rick Snyder’s election seven years ago was supposed to represent the political triumph of “economic gardening,” the idea that government doesn’t offer big incentives to land big companies and, thus, pick winners and losers.

Instead, the idea goes, economic gardening works to create an overall environment that allows businesses and startups to grow organically. The benefits are supposed to be fairness to both small and large businesses and that tax breaks and incentives are more across the board.

Photograph of Downtown Detroit
Ifmuth / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

As you may know, Amazon is looking for another city in which to build a vast new headquarters that could mean billions in investment and up to 50,000 jobs.

Not surprisingly, just about every city wants that. But the place where it might make the most difference for the local economy is, of course, Detroit.

Dan Gilbert, the Quicken Loans czar who many regard as Detroit’s capitalist savior, is heading a task force that will submit a bid in the next two days to the giant mail order retailer. Mayor Mike Duggan would do just about anything to lure Amazon.

Amazon
User soumit / flickr.com

Tuscon, Arizona, uprooted a 21-foot-tall saguaro cactus and tried to have it delivered to Amazon’s Seattle headquarters. Birmingham, Alabama, constructed giant Amazon boxes and placed them around the city. The mayor of Kansas City bought a thousand items online from Amazon and posted reviews of each one.

The retail giant Amazon is looking for a second home and there are a lot of contenders trying to land the project being called “H-Q-2.” At stake are many thousands of jobs and a new economic anchor for the winner.

factory
Thomas Hawk / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Wisconsin recently offered up to $3 billion in tax incentives to FoxConn of Taiwan. In Detroit, there have been hundreds of millions of dollars in incentives for a new arena for the Red Wings and Pistons and for developments by businessman Dan Gilbert, as well as huge tax credits for auto manufacturers.

Now, states and cities are trying to put together incentives to get Amazon’s new massive Headquarters 2. But the question remains: will citizens actually benefit from their tax dollars being spent to attract or retain business?

amazon seattle headquarters
Manuel Bahamondez H / FLICKR - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

In the Detroit News today, columnist Daniel Howes examined whether Detroit has the leadership to land the much talked about Amazon HQ2, a second headquarters for the massive online retailer.

Amazon’s $5 billion investment would result in around 50,000 jobs, with an average compensation of $100,000 a year.

“You’re looking at a potential economic boon the likes of which few communities ever see,” said Howes.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

The cartoon wasn't necessarily meant as an indictment of Michigan (although our embarrassing weaknesses in education and public transportation will likely prevent us from winning the Amazon HQ2 sweepstakes). It was meant as an indictment of the United States as a whole.

Now, before I end up in a stump speech for some publicity-grubbing pop star running (or not running) for Senate, let me say some nice things about America. America is great. America has vast resources. America is very wealthy. America has lots of talent.

simone.brunozzi / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCLO

Amazon plans to build another headquarters in North America. It's dropped a request for proposals, an RFP. That means the competition has begun – cities and states will be tripping over one another, trying to land this prize.

But Richard Shearer, a senior research associate and senior project manager with the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution, argues there’s a very good chance Amazon already knows where it wants to build this second headquarters, and that this is basically a faux competition.

tom parr / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Last Thursday, commerce giant Amazon announced it would build a second corporate headquarters, known as Amazon HQ2, somewhere in North America. It's now up to metropolitan areas across the country to show they're the best option to meet the company's needs.

"It's going to set off an inter-state bidding war," said Chad Livengood, a senior reporter covering Detroit for Crain's Detroit Business.