Windsor-Detroit bid fails to make list of 20 finalists for Amazon HQ2

The online retail giant announced its list of 20 finalists Thursday. Toronto is the only city that's still being considered.

Mayor points to regional transit as possible weakness

An employee exits the warehouse floor of the warehouse in Hyderabad, India. The company is looking for a new second headquarters, and many Canadian cities have thrown their hats into the ring. (Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Windsor and Detroit's joint bid for Amazon's new headquarters failed to make the final cut.

The online retail giant announced Thursday it had narrowed all 238 applications for HQ2 to a list of 20 finalists. Toronto is the only Canadian city that's still being considered.

Windsor's offer included a $106-million incentive package, a prime downtown location in the Paul Martin Building and the possibility of a cross-border ferry or gondola if Amazon placed 5,000 employees in the city.

Mayor Drew Dilkens said officials on both sides of the border were hoping to make the short list so the news was a "little disappointing" but added applying was still a worthwhile experience.

"I don't think anybody is wallowing in sorrow today ... we all understand the business case was strong, the proposal was strong and we want to go back out there and do something great for our communities."

He described the bid document as strong, but pointed to regional transit as a possible weakness in both Windsor and Detroit that may have turned Amazon off.

Dilkens added Toronto's massive metropolitan area might be behind the fact they're the lone Canadian contender still in the running.

"They have lots of talent in the city of Toronto," he explained. "On that front they certainly have a good head start."

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens said Windsor will continue trying to attract global businesses like Amazon. (Derek Spalding/CBC)

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan issued a statement thanking Dilkens and saying Detroit was proud of the bid, which "showed a clear vision for the future of our city and brought out the very best of our city and our region."

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder said he ws disappointed the state wouldn't be welcoming Amazon.

"Michigan's spirit is unstoppable, and so is our comeback. This won't set us back - we're accelerating to the next opportunity. We know it's out there."

That comeback is part of a push that will propel Windsor and Detroit, according to Dilkens, who said one spinoff benefit of the bid process is a stronger relationship with officials on the other side of the border.

"We see the rebound and the growth in the city of Detroit, we feel the energy here in the City of Windsor and we know we have a great business case to make between our two jurisdictions," he said.

Work to build bid not in vain

In a statement from Amazon, spokesperson Holly Sullivan said it was tough to whittle down all of the applications to the list of finalists. 

"Through this process we learned about many new communities across North America that we will consider as locations for future infrastructure investment and job creation," she added.

Dilkens said that possibility is just one of the positives to come out of Windsor's Amazon bid.

"All the work that went into putting that bid together is not lost. I think you can literally take that same document, make some tweaks when we find out where our areas of weakness are ... then  go back out and go after other tech companies with the same vigour and passion that we did with Amazon."

HQ2 finalists:

  • Atlanta, Ga.

  • Austin, Texas

  • Boston, Mass.

  • Chicago, Ill.

  • Columbus, Ohio

  • Dallas, Texas

  • Denver, Colo.

  • Indianapolis, Ind.

  • Los Angeles, Calif.

  • Miami, Fla.

  • Montgomery County, Md.

  • Nashville, Tenn.

  • Newark, NJ

  • New York City, N.Y.

  • Northern Virginia, Va.

  • Philadelphia, Pa.

  • Pittsburgh, Pa.

  • Raleigh, N.C.

  • Toronto, Ont.

  • Washington D.C.