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Detroit mayor: Here's why Amazon should choose our city for its second headquarters

  • Democratic Mayor Mike Duggan says his city matches exactly what Amazon is looking for as a second headquarters location.
  • Duggan says there's plenty of room to build the "8 million square feet of new office space," which Amazon wants to eventually expand to.

As cities across the United States fight for a chance to be the home of Amazon's second headquarters, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan contended Friday on CNBC that his city has the assets envisioned by Jeff Bezos, founder of the e-commerce and cloud-computing giant.

Although there's some great competition from other cities, the Motor City and Amazon's goals align, Duggan said on "Squawk Box."

"The vision that Amazon has outlined of building a headquarters woven into an urban area" would fit the transformation that's "happened here in the last few years," he added.

Earlier this month, Amazon said it plans to open another headquarters in North America, looking for pitches from cities and states for what it calls HQ2. Amazon's current home base is in Seattle.

Detroit was one of the areas hit hardest by the Great Recession, and its unemployment was running nearly three times as high as the national average in 2009 at a staggering 28 percent.

In 2010, Quicken Loans founder and billionaire Dan Gilbert moved the company's headquarters from outside Detroit in Michigan to the urban core of the city as a part of revitalization efforts.

"Dan Gilbert and Quicken have probably bought 12,000 to 15,000 employees down here over the last four or five years, filling in office buildings, weaving an integrated community," Duggan said.

The Democratic Detroit mayor also said the city lost many people throughout 1970s, '80s, and '90s so there's plenty of room "to build 8 million square feet of new office space, which is the ultimate goal and weave it into the downtown." Amazon said it initially wants half-a-million square feet with the ability to expand to 8 million.

"It's hard to believe that three years ago we were in bankruptcy but we restructured our balance sheet. We shed our debt and we put the money in the police, in fire, in park, in services. And the results over the last few years have been unbelievable," Duggan said.

Quicken's Gilbert also appeared Friday on "Squawk Box," saying Amazon could benefit from Detroit's proximity to Canada.

"You could have two countries right there," Gilbert said. "Amazon is a transportation company to some degree. They're about the movement of goods and maybe services."

Gilbert said he hasn't personally made a pitch to Amazon's Bezos for Detroit yet, but said going "down the checklist" it fits.

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