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Gilbert video shows Amazon some Detroit love

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Detroit — Billionaire businessman Dan Gilbert released a video Friday courting Amazon to locate its second headquarters in Detroit.

Gilbert tweeted “Momentum breeds momentum. #AmazonDetroit #AmazonHQ2”

Accompanying the tweet was a 31-second video featuring highly charged music and aerial views of the city, including the MacArthur Bridge leading to Belle Isle, the Detroit River and RiverWalk with a view of Windsor, a neighborhood and a bustling downtown.

Also represented in the video is the city’s auto industry, a University of Michigan solar car and the QLine traveling on Woodward.

The video ends with “#AmazonDetroit” and “The story begins 10.19.17,” noting Amazon’s deadline for proposals.

The Seattle-based ecommerce giant announced earlier this month that it was soliciting bids from North American cities for a second headquarters. Company founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said the site could bring a $5 billion investment and create as many as 50,000 jobs.

The announcement sent cities scrambling to develop proposals for the Amazon headquarters.

Gilbert also took his pitch to the television airways Friday with an in-studio appearance on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” Joining the discussion remotely was Mayor Mike Duggan.

Duggan noted that Gilbert, chairman and founder of Quicken Loans, has brought 12,000-15,000 employees downtown during the last four or five years, which fits Amazon’s vision to build a headquarters in an urban area.

“The thing about Detroit is because we lost so many people in the ’70s, the ’80s the ’90s, there’s plenty of room to build 8 million-square-feet of new office space, which is the ultimate goal, and weave it into the downtown,” he said.

Gilbert said he would be willing to temporarily move employees out of his buildings to accommodate Amazon. Quicken Loans is headquartered in the One Campus Martius building.

“Detroit has got not only some prime pieces of land that we have under control here between the city and us, but we can build ... and we can also move Amazon in immediately. ... While we’re building it to order, they can put in their first few million. We’ll take people out of the buildings that are our own, Quicken Loans, put them somewhere temporarily to get them in there. Because I think everyone will take one for the team here, right? It’s exciting.”

Gilbert also noted Detroit as a standout candidate because of its proximity to an international border. Windsor has expressed a desire to join Detroit in its pitch.

Earlier this month, Duggan tapped Gilbert to lead a task force to explore a pitch for a second Amazon headquarters. Gilbert has said that Detroit is a legit contender to win Amazon.

UM President Mark Schlissel has said he regards the university as a potential draw for Amazon to bring a headquarters to Detroit.

Since 2016, Amazon has announced three fulfillment centers in Michigan and a corporate office in Detroit. With the fulfillment center planned for Shelby Township, Amazon’s workforce in Michigan will grow to 3,500.

Twitter: @CWilliams_DN