Bringing Amazon to the Motor City

Philip Mandelbaum
Oct 10, 2017 · 3 min read

When Detroit was dark, I was there. When the City declared bankruptcy, I was there. I was born and raised in Macomb, a suburb of the D, and I’d been witnessing the decline firsthand for years…

And then came Mike Duggan. He mounted a write-in campaign, and won, on the slogan “Every neighborhood has a future.” The future is now.

Today, 10 Detroit suburbs are among the safest in the U.S. (

Our new Mayor’s first major initiative: bringing us into the light. He installed 65,000 new fixtures on streets across the metro area. As The New York Times put it in January, the move meant “[i]t’s O.K. to go out after dark. Restaurants feel the glow. So do schoolchildren.”

A small gesture, it seemed, but the glow of its symbolism has outshone all the LED streetlights combined.

As reported recently by Crain’s, Little Caesar’s Arena, future Downtown home to the Detroit Pistons, is bringing in $1 billion in new commercial and residential development — and that’s just the latest news from ‘America’s Great Comeback Story.’

Led by the likes of billionaire Dan Gilbert (Quicken Loans, Cleveland Cavaliers), JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon, the Illitch family, athlete Magic Johnson and actor Mark Wahlberg, it seems everyone is investing in Detroit.

Trendy restaurants, techno and rock concerts, scenic and social parks, freshly paved biking lanes, curated walkways, a redesigned riverfront and the new QLine public transport system are redefining Detroit from Downtown to its outer districts.

By the end of last year, Mr. Gilbert had purchased more than 80 downtown properties, investing a total of $19 billion. In his first five years in Detroit alone, he paid more than $3 billion in salaries, spent $802 million at local businesses, and relocated 12,000+ of his own employees.

This year, JPMorgan Chase increased its initial $100-million investment by another $50 million.

Ally Financial, HP, Ernst & Young, OnStar and Blue Cross Blue Shield are some of the other major corporations with headquarters or major office centers in the City. And the automotive Big 3 — GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler, all headquartered in Detroit — announced $2.7 billion in new domestic investments in the first half of 2017 alone.

That’s not all.

“In metro Detroit, entrepreneurial development and venture capital investment is surging — providing the fuel for further economic growth in the region” (FORBES).

Detroit is #10 on ABODO’s list of top U.S. metro areas for tech jobs, and tech workers in the City and surrounding suburbs earn 12x more in income than what they pay in rent.

Experts (e.g., Fortune) are now calling Detroit “the next Silicon Valley.”

Ted Serbinski, the Managing Director of Techstars Mobility, an ex-Silicon Valley entrepreneur and a startup investor, explained in a Crain’s Op-Ed from August that he moved here to “take part in the emerging entrepreneurial gold rush in Detroit.”

And The Renaissance City is still the most undervalued in the nation (FORBES), making it an ideal location for a tech company searching for a home for its new headquarters.

Enter Madonna.

On June 17, The Material Girl took to Twitter to tell Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos of the “incredible opportunities for almost instant impact” in Detroit, “one of the coolest cities in America.”

And this is my plea for Mr. Bezos to consider Madonna’s recommendation. She even offered to visit with him.

Who says “no” to the Queen of Pop?

Why set up camp in a city with little space, or little room to grow? Why open shop in a metro area too expensive for your own employees to find homes or buy lunch?

America’s “millennial paradise” (Elite Daily), Detroit’s future is bright. Just like Amazon‘s. Let’s grow together.

Believe me, I’ll be there.

Philip Mandelbaum

Written by

Managing Content Editor, School of Motion | Director, Mandelbaum Marketing | Marketing Director, Opus 40 | Marketing Consultant, LTL MTN | Writer x Photographer

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