Dan Gilbert leading Super Bowl-like bid for Amazon headquarters in Detroit

Posted at 10:16 AM, Sep 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-14 14:04:12-04

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said he asked Quicken Loans Founder Dan Gilbert to lead a Super Bowl-like committee to come up with a proposal to bring Amazon's second headquarters, being called "HQ2," to Detroit.

According to Duggan, within an hour of the announcement from Amazon last week, he got a call from Gilbert.

"He says, 'I think this is a real opportunity. We've got to be all in. I'll play whatever role you want,'" Duggan said during the annual Detroit Homecoming event.

"We have already put together a task force of internal and external people here in Detroit to fully explore the opportunity of Amazon's HQ2," Gilbert said in a statement last week. "We are very excited and we believe that Detroit will make an extremely strong pitch to Amazon."

Duggan told people that Amazon's RFP (request for proposal) reminded him of Gilbert.

"You've got a billionaire, who has a company with thousands of employees. He wants to put in a place where he creates lots of buildings in a downtown area and move the employees in," Duggan said. "I thought, who do I know that's done something like that?"

That's when the idea to create a committee came to Duggan's mind. It all stemmed from Roger Penske leading the committee to bring the Super Bowl to Detroit in 2006.

According to Duggan, they have also reached out to other metro Detroit community leaders, knowing that it is going to take the entire region getting involved.

Duggan said there is some tough competition, as other cities like Chicago, Pittsburgh and Atlanta are working on bids to bring HQ2 to their city.

The $5 billion headquarters would bring nearly 50,000 jobs to the city Amazon chooses.

Duggan said proposals are due Oct. 19, saying they have five weeks to get everything ready, and said it's going to be a tough process.

In the next week, Duggan said they plan to flesh out a bid committee that is already being worked on by nearly 100 people within Bedrock and city agencies.

"We will be reaching out to folks, because we're going to need expertise in energy and sustainability, expertise in infrastructure, expertise in transit and training," Duggan said. "If you see the operation he's got going, it's a war room."

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is also working with the city and entire metro area to bring the headquarters here. Duggan said Snyder called him from the middle of a night on a bus in Japan to talk about what they need to do.

"The governor had a whole series of suggestions on how we need to get the whole region involved because 50,000 jobs won't be in one city," Duggan said. "You're going to need multiple communities."

"While there are may encouraging business reasons for Amazon to set up shop in Michigan, I firmly believe that our most impressive asset is the incredible, hard-working Michiganders who make our state the best in the nation," Snyder said a statement last week.

Amazon has already invested a lot of money in metro Detroit, bringing fulfillment centers in Romulus, Livonia and now Shelby Township, announced on Thursday, plus a sortation center in Brownstown and a corporate office in Detroit. Those amount to thousands of jobs in the area.

"We're up against some really tough competition and really great cities, but if we all pull together, we're going to take a shot," Duggan said.