As Amazon tries to keep its HQ2 selection process under wraps, details continue to leak at a steady rate. Last week, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that a lobbyist representing Amazon registered with the Georgia state capitol. And on Wednesday, the public got its eyes on another HQ2 bid when reporters from Crain’s Detroit Business got their hands on a joint HQ2 proposal from Detroit and Windsor, Canada, located less than 5 miles to the south.
Although the city of Detroit met enough of the requirements that it could have bid on its own, submitting with Windsor allowed Detroit to tout its bid as “international.” It’s an approach similar to the one offered by Chula Vista, California, located not too far from the Mexican border, when the city proposed the creation of a “binational university, supported by Amazon.”
The bid obtained by Crain’s did not include the total amount of incentives offered by the state of Michigan; Wayne County, where Detroit is located; or the city itself. According to Crain’s, that’s because of a non-disclosure agreement signed by companies owned by Dan Gilbert –chairman of Detroit-based Quicken Loans, who said he would be willing to offer up some of his properties to Amazon for their HQ2 — with the Michigan Economic Development Corp.
But, like many other cities that have bid for HQ2, both Detroit and Windsor make heavy use of existing incentive programs, many of which already offer generous tax breaks for corporations.
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In 2016, the Michigan State Senate passed a law that allowed corporations to keep 10 years’ worth of state income tax taken from their employees’ paychecks, so long as they create at least 500 jobs with the average wage equal to or greater than the average wage in their county, or 250 jobs with wages that are at least 125 percent higher than the average wage. In Wayne County, that’s $58,000 a year. According to the RFP for Amazon’s HQ2, the average wage would exceed $100,000 once the HQ2 reaches 50,000 employees.
Chicago lawmakers drew criticism from those outside the state during the HQ2 bidding process when it was revealed that the state of Illinois had a similar incentive program.
The city of Windsor, meanwhile, says it will offer Amazon a USD $106 million incentive package, and notes that Amazon could also qualify for Canadian corporate tax credits for research and development.
The proposal also notes that Gov. Rick Snyder (R) plans to include room in his annual budget for a $120 million talent development program that Amazon could take advantage of. That program would have to first be approved by the state legislature in the new year, however.
Detroit and Windsor are also offering Amazon 3.2 million square feet of existing office space to choose from, should it decide to build its HQ2 there. Many of the properties being offered up in Detroit are owned by Gilbert, who has snapped up properties in Downtown Detroit through his real estate holding company, Bedrock LLC.
To shuttle all these workers between Canada and the U.S, the cities propose building a ferry service. The bid adds that the cities will take additional steps to improve public transportation in the area and proposes adding an express bus route between nearby college town Ann Arbor and Detroit in 2018.
You can read the rest of the summary of Windsor and Detroit’s joint HQ2 bid here.
Correction, 10:44 a.m.: This post has been updated with the correct distance from Detroit to Windsor.