DETROIT (WJBK) - Dan Gilbert, arguably one of the most influential businessmen in Detroit, was a leading force behind the now-failed effort to attract Amazon.
Gilbert said the reason Detroit wasn't chosen for Amazon's second headquarters is about more than transportation and talent. He wrote an open letter Tuesday about what he calls "the elephant in the room."
"We are still dealing with the unique radioactive-like reputational fallout of 50-60 years of economic decline, disinvestment, municipal bankruptcy, and all of the other associated negative consequences of that extraordinarily long period of time," the letter reads.
In short: a bad reputation.
The dangerous city label is a tough one for us to peel off, but the numbers show great improvement. In 2009 Detroit police say there were just shy of 7,000 robberies. By last year the figure was a little over 2,500.
"As the city went into bankruptcy, we saw some pretty rough times," said Detroit police Deputy Chief David LeValley. "But what it is today versus what it was even five years ago is a night and day difference."
Take, for example, the new Little Caesars Arena. You can't throw a stone in Midtown or downtown without seeing renovated or gound-up mixed used construction. Flex-N-Gate just announced it's building a plant on the east side. The mayor is also targeting 10 areas encompassing about 70 neighborhoods for significant public and private investment.
One way Gilbert says to break this bad reputation is to get folks actually in Detroit.
"Once we get them here, we've got them," he wrote.
You can read Gilbert's letter in full here.