Patrick Anderson, CEO of East Lansing-based Anderson Economic Group, thinks so. Among the criteria Amazon sought were labor and business services, cost of doing business and ease of transportation.
“The cost of doing business in a stable tax environment — Michigan looks really good,” Anderson said. “It also looks very good on explicit criteria for talent and trained workers. Where it doesn’t look good on the explicit criteria is on mass transit. If you put all those together, there’s the opportunity to address what is a shortcoming and highlight what is a very strong basis for building a major facility like what Amazon proposes in Metro Detroit.”
Anderson Economic Group ranked Detroit 32nd out of 35 metro areas, mainly because of its uncompetitive mass transit. New York City ranked No. 1 overall, while Chicago came in second. Yet, Detroit’s comparative weakness in mass transit may not prevent the region from making Amazon’s short list.
“Once they start visiting cities they are going to see strength and weaknesses in every one,” he said. “Some cities that have availability of mass transit, such as New York City, will also have extremely high cost of doing business and a lot of congestion that makes it hard for people to get around and well as difficulty getting to an international airport.”
Anderson notes strengths such as Detroit’s accessibility to Detroit Metropolitan Airport, which offers solid connections to both U.S. coasts as well as business centers in Europe and Asia. Employees can generally get to work their workplace, they just do it by car.