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The Bid: Will the City That Houses Amazon's Second Headquarters Really Benefit?

February 13, 2018 - 4:00pm

With its 142 square miles of largely empty land, and a sweet package of tax incentives, Detroit looked like a shoo-in for setting up Amazon's second headquarters, but it didn't make the cut. A closer look at Amazon's criteria, however, makes one wonder if the deal would have benefited anyone other than CEO Jeff Bezos.Stories like this are more important than ever! To make sure Truthout can keep publishing them, please give a tax-deductible donation today.
Detroit's bid to house Amazon's second headquarters seemed, to some, a shoo-in. With 142 largely empty square miles of land, the city could surely set some of that aside -- sweetening the pot with tax incentives and other perks -- and no one would be the wiser. The bid failed, supposedly because of the city's lousy public transit offerings and unproven ability to retain the talent that the mega-retailer was counting on. But the headquarters, as this month's investigative strip reveals, wouldn't have done much for the city. In fact, the closer we look at Amazon's process for choosing sites for its second headquarters, the more we wonder if it will do anyone any good -- except CEO Jeff Bezos.
This is the second in our investigative comics series on land usage in Detroit. "Digging In," last month, was our first, and you won't want to miss its close-up look at a North Corktown eatery. Next month we'll look at another innovative land-use project in the city -- and the assist it may give national food production (even while it cures your allergies)!


ENDNOTES:
1.      "Amazon HQ2 Bid Revealed," Chad Livengood and Kirk Pinho, Crain's Detroit Business, December 20, 2017. Accessed February 13, 2018: http://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20171220/news/648176/amazon-hq2-bid-revealed-tax-breaks-120-million-talent-program-transit
2.      "Metro Detroit's Bid for Amazon Is a Group Effort," Candace Williams and Daniel Howes, The Detroit News, October 19, 2017. Accessed February 13, 2017: http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/detroit-city/2017/10/19/metro-detroit-amazon-bid-group-effort/106783950/
3.      "The Frenetic Race to Build Detroit's Amazon Bid," Chad Livengood and Kirk Pinho, Crain's Detroit Business, January 14, 2018. Accessed February 13, 2018: http://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20180114/news03/650046/the-frenetic-race-to-build-detroits-amazon-bid
4.      Ibid.
5.      "Amazon HQ2 Cities: Here Are Some of the Biggest Snubs," Julia Horowitz, CNN Tech, January 19, 2018. Accessed February 13, 2018: http://money.cnn.com/2018/01/19/technology/amazon-hq2-shortlist-snubs/index.html
6.      Amazon HQ2 RFP, Amazon Office of Economic Development. Accessed February 13, 2018: https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/G/01/Anything/test/images/usa/RFP_3._V516043504_.pdf
7.      "Kansas City Mayor gives 1,000 Amazon Products Five Stars in Hopes of Securing Second Headquarters," Shannon Liao, The Verge, October 11, 2017. Accessed February 13, 2018: https://www.theverge.com/2017/10/11/16461706/amazon-second-headquarters-kansas-city-five-stars-reviews
8.      Detroit Moves the World, Stephen McGee, Rock Ventures, LLC., October 19, 2017. Accessed February 13, 2018: http://www.detroitmovestheworld.com
9.      "Wayne County Scraps Plan to Finish Failed Gratiot Jail Site," Katrease Stafford, Detroit Free Press, December 1, 2017. Accessed February 13, 2018: https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/detroit/2017/12/01/wayne-county-jail-gratiot/912661001/
10.  "Detroit's Amazon Bid May Become Blueprint for Downtown," Louis Aguilar and Christine Ferretti, The Detroit News, January 18, 2018. Accessed February 13, 2018: http://www.detroitnews.com/story/business/2018/01/18/amazon-bid-detroit-blueprint/109584876/
11.  "Amazon Employs 18 Women Among 120 Most Senior Managers," Juliette Garside, The Guardian, April 25, 2014. Accessed February 13, 2018:  https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/apr/25/amazon-employs-18-women-among-120-senior-managers
12.  "Inside Amazon, Diversity Concerns Flare Up After Harassment Accusations," Nick Wingfield, The New York Times, October 20, 2017. Accessed February 12, 2018:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/20/technology/amazon-sexual-harassment.html
13.  "Diversity at Amazon," Amazon website. Accessed February 13, 2018:  https://www.amazon.com/b?node=10080092011
14.  "More Ohio Amazon Workers Relying on Food Aid," Zach Schiller, Policy Matters Ohio, January 5, 2018. Accessed February 13, 2018: https://www.policymattersohio.org/press-room/2018/01/05/more-ohio-amazon-workers-relying-on-food-aid
15.  "Amazon Is Thriving Thanks to Taxpayer Dollars," David Dayen, The New Republic, January 9, 2018. Accessed February 13, 2018: https://newrepublic.com/article/146540/amazon-thriving-thanks-taxpayer-dollars
16.  "Read the Letter to Amazon from City of San Antonio and Bexar County," San Antonio Express-News, October 11, 2017. Accessed February 13, 2018: https://www.expressnews.com/business/article/City-County-letter-to-Amazon-12271052.php
17.  "Jeff Bezos Is the Richest Person in History," Chris Isidore, CNN Tech, January 9, 2018. Accessed February 13, 2018: http://money.cnn.com/2018/01/09/technology/jeff-bezos-richest/index.html
 Copyright, Anne Elizabeth Moore and Melissa Mendes.