Positioning the Detroit Region as the Future Home of Amazon’s HQ2

With Detroit’s revitalization fresh on the minds of the business community, there is no better time to leverage the region’s world-class talent, assets and resources to attract leading global companies. With Amazon’s recent announcement to build a second headquarters, the Detroit Regional Chamber is doing just that.

A Collaborative Effort

As reported in the Detroit Free Press, the Chamber, along with the city of Detroit and the Michigan Economic Development Corp., is leading a broad coalition of business and government leaders to establish a proposal to make the case for Amazon’s expansion to the Detroit region. Through its best-in-class economic development expertise, the Chamber is well-suited to lead this effort.

From its annual State of the Region report to its automotive and mobility asset map and interactive Data Center, regional and statewide economic development partners often look to the Chamber to provide key information to site selectors and businesses interested in the Southeast Michigan market. Collectively, these assets provide an impactful tool for business attraction.

Read the latest stats and data presented by Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah to justify Detroit’s position as a contender for Amazon’s HQ2 in a letter to the editor published in Crain’s Detroit Business.


MORE: Read the latest stats and facts about how Michigan is positioned to lead the world in next-generation mobility.


Well-Positioned to Compete

Key to the coalition’s success in positioning Southeast Michigan as an ideal location for Amazon’s HQ2 will be meeting Amazon’s preferences and decision drivers as laid out in the request for proposal – namely real estate availability, incentives and a strong labor force.

  • According to the Chamber’s 2017 State of the Region, Detroit has availability of industrial and commercial real estate across the region.
  • Michigan’s business-friendly climate bodes well for economic incentives, from the recently passed “Good Jobs for Michigan” legislation, to the MI Thrive collection of bills incentivizing the redevelopment of transformational brownfields projects.
  • Detroit’s rich labor pool exceeds 2.5 million individuals, larger than 28 other states.
  • It is one of the fastest growing technology regions, leading peer regions in STEM occupation job growth at more than 18 percent since 2010.
  • The Detroit Metropolitan Airport is a world-class facility, recently being ranked No. 1 in business travel.
  • Detroit is an international gateway to business around the world. The region is one of the strongest export markets in the nation, especially with its ideal proximity to the Canadian market.

These are just a few of the ways the Detroit region is a standout contender for Amazon’s headquarters project.

The Chamber will continue to be the voice of business and will monitor the developments.

Wes Moore: Inclusive, Broad and Transparent Conversations Matter

Taking Michigan’s Center Stage, renowned social advocate Wes Moore, CEO of the Robin Hood Foundation and best-selling author of “The Work: My Search for a Life That Matters,” shared his personal journey from poverty to dedicating his life to improving the lives of underprivileged youth and veterans. Moore explained that inclusion is the first step to shrink the opportunity gap and enhance quality of life in communities that feel left behind.

Key Takeaways:

  • With various instances of public discourse between police and minority youth in the country, it is important to acknowledge and understand the state of the neighborhoods these instances are taking place in. If the context in which this discourse exists in is not understood, then the real changes that are needed will not be made.
  • Innovation and change is happening faster than we can realize, but for an individual that lives in underserved communities in Michigan or the country, he or she cannot tell.
  • It is important to never forget about who it is that we need to fight for and who it is we need to be remembering because there will never be inclusive conversations if only a sliver of the population’s voices are heard.
  • When decisions are made for the future of Michigan’s neighborhoods–inclusive, broad and transparent conversations matter.
  • Communities should feel a sense of inclusion and that they are part of important conversations.
  • Poverty is a function of systemic action and choice. It was not one action that led to it, therefore it will not take one action to solve it. A collection of entities is needed to address these issues and if government and philanthropy come together, solutions can be found.
  • When looking at education in impoverished communities, the quality of kids’ education and access to opportunity must be first and foremost when decisions are made.

“There is not a single issue that the folks in this room could not make something happen on. There’s that level of influence, power and significance here,” Moore told Conference attendees. “The future of Michigan will not be bright unless we are being very deliberate about what it means for areas like Flint, and areas like Saginaw and the Upper Peninsula and Detroit.”

Following Moore’s keynote address, Stephen Henderson, editorial page editor for the Detroit Free Press, joined him on stage for a one-on-one conversation. This session was sponsored by PNC Bank and falls under the Conference pillar of increasing economic opportunity.

W.K. Kellogg Foundation Awards $3.5 Million Grant to Detroit Promise to Help Students Pursue Higher Education

By Tiffany Jones

The Detroit Regional Chamber joined Gov. Rick Snyder and Mayor Mike Duggan to announce a $3.5 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in support of the Detroit Promise, a last-dollar scholarship program administered by the Chamber Foundation.

The grant will support thousands of Detroit high school graduates with tuition and services as they pursue a college education at participating institutions over the next three years. The grant is part of a $30 million campaign led by the Michigan Education Excellence Foundation (MEEF), which seeks to shepherd the program through a critical time of transition and development. The grant will support the two-year and four-year scholarship program to meet anticipated growth. It also will support efforts to enhance retention rates so that more students successfully obtain degrees and certificates.

Under the leadership of the governor, MEEF has raised nearly $10 million in seed money to initiate the scholarship program, established in 2013, formerly known as the Detroit Scholarship Fund. The grant will ensure that the scholarship and supportive programs are fully developed and available to Detroit youth as public funding becomes available during the next couple of years under the Detroit Promise Zone, a tax capture program initiated by the mayor.


RELATED: TRILLIUM ACADEMY SENIORS HEAR CAREER LESSONS FROM CHAMBER MILLENNIALS 


“The W.K. Kellogg Foundation investment will assure that more Detroit youth will enter college and successfully earn postsecondary degrees,” said Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber. “Thousands of young Detroit residents will be better prepared for and able to succeed in the 21st century global economy.”

The announcement attracted media from major local outlets including Detroit Free Press, The Detroit News, WWJ and WXYZ-TV7.

Tiffany Jones is the director of communications at the Detroit Regional Chamber. 

Read more about The Detroit Promise:

Detroit Promise Expands Tuition-Free Program to Four-Year Universities

 

In Case You Missed It: Download the 2017 State of the Region

Recently, the Detroit Regional Chamber released its third annual State of Region report, underwritten by Citizens Bank. Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah presented the report findings to nearly 300 business and community leaders at The Westin Book Cadillac in Detroit.

The report, which offers a data-driven analysis of the progress made in the 11-counties that comprise the Detroit region, garnered several media articles throughout the day. The local news outlets included: Crain’s Detroit Business, Detroit Free Press, Detroit News and MLive.

During the luncheon, Baruah outlined the accomplishments of key indicators of the region including per capita income, which the Detroit region ranked third nationally in one-year per capita income growth. Median home values also lead peer regions in both five-year and one-year growth rates and the region led its peers in median home value growth between 2014 and 2015 at 10.7 percent.

The report also showed the region added more than 200,000 jobs since 2010, with architecture and engineering as the fastest-growing occupations. The Detroit region is now sixth among its peers in the Kauffman Innovation Index, charting startup activity – up five spots. The region is also No. 1 in patent growth, with patents granted to regional innovators growing by 8 percent.

“As the data in this report suggest, the needle is indeed moving in the right direction,” Baruah said.

The afternoon presentation also addressed key areas in need of improvement. The data showed that while the region matched the national average when it came to educational attainment, it still lags behind most all of the competing regions. Transit was another area for improvement. Regional transit entities handled approximately 42 million public transit rides last year, far short of the goal of 55 million rides.

“While some progress is being made, we’re not making the dramatic progress that we need to make in order to ensure our position in the 21st century,” Baruah told the crowd. “Businesses need to remain focused on affecting public policies that boost high school graduation rates and strengthen a pipeline of students into higher education.”

Following the presentation, Mustafa Mohatarem, chief economist for General Motors Co., gave an overview of national economic trends and the impact they have on the region. Mohatarem then joined a panel to provide reaction to the data and discuss the current state of the economy. Panelists included Rip Rapson, president and CEO of The Kresge Foundation; John Roberts, budget director of the State of Michigan; and Marina Whitman, professor of business administration and public policy at the University of Michigan. Education and transportation were areas of most concern for all panelists.

In addition to Citizens Bank, other sponsors of the event included: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Comcast Business and Office Depot.

To view or download a copy of the report, click here.