WEEDC CEO Stephen MacKenzie is introduced, August 8, 2016. (Photo by Mike Vlasveld)WEEDC CEO Stephen MacKenzie is introduced, August 8, 2016. (Photo by Mike Vlasveld)

FULL STORY: Joint Bid For Amazon Headquarters Confirmed

The CEO of the Windsor-Essex Economic Development Corporation is at Queen's Park to get provincial support for a joint Windsor-Detroit bid for the new Amazon headquarters.

Stephen MacKenzie confirms the City of Windsor is teaming up with the City of Detroit to make the case to be the bi-national host for a project that could bring 50,000 jobs to the region by 2027.

He says there's no understating how big the project will be.

"Eventually, the prospect is that it could be up to 8-million sq ft by the year 2027. But it would start with a 500,000 sq ft requirement," says MacKenzie. "At least in my 22 years in this economic development field, this is the biggest RFP [request for proposals] that I've seen, let alone worked on."

MacKenzie expects competition to be fierce. Ottawa and Toronto have already announced they will submit bids. That is why provincial and federal support for the local business case will be crucial.

"We're going to be competing against a lot of U.S. jurisdictions, and the incentive game down there is just completely different," he says. "There will be incredible packages put together by our competitors."

While MacKenzie makes his case Monday and Tuesday in Toronto, he says back at the office in Windsor; staff members are making calls to the Ministry of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development.

MacKenzie says he can not say for certain if the State of Michigan or Washington D.C. will offer incentives, but he says there is a role for those governments to get involved too.

What makes the Windsor-Detroit bid unique, is the centrepiece of its case to Amazon, operations in both Canada and the U.S.

"A lot of tech companies that voiced their concern that some of the immigration policies being considered would cause the pipeline of international talent to cease. Well, Canada doesn't have that kind of problem," says MacKenzie, noting that it could address much of the angst over North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiations and the free flow of professionals across the border.

"President Trump has [also] made a lot of statements about companies that should be locating in the U.S. or coming back to the U.S.," MacKenzie adds. "Most of the investment would be in the U.S."

Later this week, Mayor Drew Dilkens is expected to meet with Quicken Loans owner Dan Gilbert. MacKenzie says much of that discussion will centre on possible location sites on both sides of the border.

The bid is due October 19.

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