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Dan Gilbert addresses ‘elephant in the room’ in failed Amazon HQ2 bid

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Spoiler alert: It’s our reputation

Michelle & Chris Gerard

Last week, Amazon announced the top 20 candidates for the location for its second headquarters. Many expected the company to name five cities, so the absence of Detroit from the list hurt even more.

Amazon and those who were part of the Detroit committee cited the lack of talent and transit as hindering Detroit’s bid.

While we can see why transit hurt our chances, the admission of talent was tough. Today, Dan Gilbert released a statement addressing the ‘elephant in the room.’

What is that elephant in the room? According to Gilbert,

We are still dealing with the unique radioactive-like reputational fallout of 50-60 years of economic decline, disinvestment, municipal bankruptcy, and all of the other associated negative consequences of that extraordinarily long period of time.

He goes on to say,

Outstanding state-of-the-art videos, well-packaged and eye-catching proposals, complex and generous tax incentives and highly compelling and improving metrics cannot nor will not overcome the strong negative connotations that the Detroit brand still needs to conquer.

Old, negative reputations do not die easily.

Earlier in the statement, he addresses the talent in the region. While we still need to work on the K-12 system and workforce development, Gilbert says there is plenty of talent within the region—from Wayne State to the University of Michigan to Michigan State and beyond.

And yes, he said that we need to work on transit. Now. You hear that, regional leaders?

Gilbert also notes that the effort that went into this proposal will not go to waste and that it can help us attract more businesses in the coming years.

The full statement can be read here.