If you’ve been following the news, you’ve heard about Amazon’s recent call for proposals as they decide where to build their second headquarters. (If not, a quick google search of “Amazon HQ2” will catch you up to speed.) A Willy Wonka-like frenzy has ensued as cities across the country are scrambling to demonstrate why they’re worthy of the golden ticket.
Detroit has submitted a bid, along with 237 other cities, and most sources consider us to be a bit of an underdog, but I have an optimistic hope that Detroit will catch Amazon’s attention.
How many cities have the physical space to accommodate the 50,000 jobs Amazon would bring? We have ample room for new construction and housing downtown. There are respected universities nearby that are constantly churning out new talent and a burgeoning tech scene as more and more young professionals move to the city. We have been at the forefront of transportation innovation for a century. We have a large international airport, a border with Canada, and highways that were built for nearly three times as many residents.
Think of what Amazon could provide: opportunities for Michiganders looking for work, and for new residents to move to the Midwest. There would be more taxes to fund better services for Detroit residents and investment in infrastructure and public transportation. There would be a secondary increase in jobs in other sectors to support the rise in population, more mechanics and hairdressers and plumbers and child care providers. This would help improve schools and contribute to a safer downtown.
New residents would drive up demand for restaurants and recreation. We love to spend time downtown as a family, and we always welcome more places to go out to eat, improved parks, and festivals and events to enjoy together. The Detroit renaissance is already happening, but a boost from Amazon would help.
Of course, there would be drawbacks to an influx in population, like heavier traffic and a more competitive housing market. But I say, let them come! I want Detroit to have a crowded, busy downtown and neighborhoods that are too expensive. (Although, let’s be honest, that’s starting to happen already.) If we wanted space and quiet, we wouldn’t live here.
This endeavor is a marathon, not a sprint; the headquarters wouldn’t be completed for about a decade. But think of the effect this decision will have on our children’s generation. I’m proud that our kids will grow up knowing a vibrant, diverse, thriving Detroit and will continue to build it up. Think of what the city might look like when they are our age, raising their own babies. And (it’s okay to be a little selfish, right?) more job opportunities here means a better chance of them staying close to home when they grow up!
Detroit’s story is rich; it far precedes us, and it’s greater than anything a single corporation could write. But this current chapter is exciting and just beginning to unfold. If Amazon considers us, other companies will surely follow. It would send a message to the world that Detroit is worth investing in. It would continue to alter the false narrative that we see in the headlines from outsiders who are quick to judge and hesitant to visit.
We Detroit-lovers know that not only would our city be lucky to have Amazon, Amazon would be lucky to have us. This video says it best. We are hard-working, creative, gritty, and always moving forward. We are a mix of families who have been here for generations and people who move here for a chance to take part in this amazing movement that’s happening.
Maybe Detroit won’t be selected by Amazon. But if Mr. Bezos and his crew aren’t the next major company to give us a shot, someone else will be. Our city is already on its way, and growth is happening fast. Better act soon if you’d like to come along for the ride.