It’s been more than 10 years of ongoing negotiations and work to try to get the Michigan State Fairgrounds redeveloped, and now it’s finally happening. Plans are moving forward to build an Amazon distribution center in Detroit.
“1,200 jobs is certainly significant. These are not unionized positions, not that well paid, but in Detroit’s jobless crisis this will certainly do something to help.” — Nathan Bomey, USA Today.
The online retail giant is planning to build a distribution center within city limits that will bring around 1200 new jobs to Detroit. It seems like just another step up the ladder for Amazon in their bid for retail domination, but many hope it will also help stimulate the job market in the city of Detroit.
Listen: How Amazon’s new distribution center helps it achieve retail domination
Nathan Bomey, a USA Today business reporter formerly with the Detroit Free Press, says the location was lucrative for Amazon because of its access to a transit hub.
“Amazon looks for tons of land, logistics, that property is pretty close to the interchange of I-696 and I-75,” Bomey says. “You’re close to Canadian border, that’s a significant reason why they wanted to be there.”
Bomey says although the new jobs the Amazon facility will create are entry-level positions, they will still have a positive impact on the city’s job market. He also acknowledges criticisms that the new facility may wipe out some of Detroit’s history and culture associated with the fairgrounds.
“When they see someone like an Amazon do something, that’s a head-turner.”
“1,200 jobs is certainly significant. These are not unionized positions, not that well paid, but in Detroit’s jobless crisis this will certainly do something to help,” he says. “It needs to be a balancing act between a desire to have investment and new jobs with the desire to also preserve culture.”
Although Amazon became a household name as an online retailer, the Wall Street Journal recently reported that the online giant is in talks to take over the physical retail spaces formerly held by ailing department stores like Sears or J.C. Penney. Bomey says the pandemic has increased the desire for online retailers like Amazon, and that these physical locations could act as distribution centers as well as offer services like in-person returns.
“Before the pandemic we were seeing people buying more online, but the pandemic has accelerated the move toward [online commerce] even more,” Bomey says. “I am concerned about the future of American malls. You need to be a little more specialized to survive in this world.”
Bomey says this move could also encourage other major retailers, including Amazon’s biggest competitor Walmart, to open facilities in Detroit.
“Never underestimate the role of corporate America as the lemming, when they see someone like an Amazon do something, that’s a head-turner,” he says.
This article was written by Detroit Today student producer Ali Audet.