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Trains: The key to landing new Amazon HQ and new life for Michigan’s Central Station?

tom parr
Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0
Michigan Central Station in 2017. Detroit's train depot from 1913 to 1988, the structure has since fallen into ruin.

Last Thursday, commerce giant Amazon announced it would build a second corporate headquarters, known as Amazon HQ2, somewhere in North America. It's now up to metropolitan areas across the country to show they're the best option to meet the company's needs.

"It's going to set off an inter-state bidding war," said Chad Livengood, a senior reporter covering Detroit for Crain's Detroit Business.

Livengood has been comparing what Amazon is looking for with what Michigan can offer. Southeast Michigan offers some strong qualifications but severely lacks others, he said. That list includes mass transit and a culture of being a workplace destination.

"We still lag behind some of those big regions in labor force retainment," Livengood said, "We have a strategic issue there that we'd have to address."

If Detroit were to win the bid, it could be a gamechanger for the city, Livengood said.

"Just imagine putting 50,000 new people in downtown Detroit working every day. You could see wages go up, you could see big demand for those sectors," he said. "While it would be a big huge boost, it would also greatly change the landscape."

Livengood has also been reporting on the Moroun family's plans to renovate Michigan Central Station, Detroit's former train depot that has fallen into disrepair since closing in 1988. 

"It's an audacious, ambitious idea from Matthew Moroun," Livengood said, about the son of Matty Moroun, the billionaire owner Detroit's Ambassador Bridge.

The family has so far just floated the idea, but for a traditionally reclusive organization, that's something substantial, Livengood said.

For more on Michigan's chances to land Amazon HQ2 or a rejuvenated train station, listen to the full conversation above.

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