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Dan Gilbert says Detroit has advantages in Amazon HQ bid

Last Updated Oct 20, 2017 at 8:40 pm MST

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Dan Gilbert knows Detroit is vying against a slew of cities to lure Amazon’s second headquarters.

And the Rock Ventures founder still likes its chance.

“We feel like we have a lot of advantages,” Gilbert said in an interview with The Associated Press on Friday night. “One of them is we’re proposing international headquarters on the border of two North American countries. We’ve got a hedge against any kind of immigration issues that might be on either side because you have two countries. You also have a huge, deep talent base in Canada and special universities.”

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan asked Gilbert to put the proposal together on behalf of the region.Gilbert said a “big, thick proposal with pictures” was delivered to Amazon on Thursday, and a video touting the bid was released.

“We’re not releasing a lot of details to the public like only a couple cities have,” Gilbert said after being part of a dedication ceremony for the Tom Izzo Hall of History at Michigan State University’s basketball arena. “A lot of cities aren’t because they don’t want to give up a competitive edge.”

There’s a lot at stake.

Amazon, the Seattle-based online retail giant, is seeking a second home that is expected to generate $5 billion in investments, create 50,000 jobs and use 8 million square feet of space over eight or nine years.

Gilbert said Detroit’s pitch offers a unique opportunity for the company to set up shop in the U.S. and Canada.

“We have a lot of transportation advantages because Amazon is sort of a transportation company to some degree,” Gilbert told the AP. “All the stuff with autonomous vehicles and drones and aerospace, there is a lot of that in Detroit.

“And the fact that we can give them real estate that they need with a concentration of ownership. If you go to some other urban cores because they’re built up already, it’s hard to cobble together 8 million square feet. We can give them that with existing and proposed space.”

Amazon has not announced a timetable for a decision, and suitors don’t know when they will find out where they stand.

“We don’t know because they won’t say,” Gilbert told the AP. “We think there will be another round. Our guess is they’ll limit it to 10, 12 finalists and that’s the key to get into that round and take it from there. I think we’ve got a pretty good shot.”

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Follow Larry Lage at www.twitter.com/larrylage