Cities across the United States rolled out generous incentives to attract Amazon‘s second headquarters. But, for all Detroit, Michigan, offered, it wasn’t enough.
But, General Motors product and purchasing chief, Mark Reuss, said there’s a clear reason why the company bypassed Detroit: a talent deficit. He told reported and industry professionals at the Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress earlier this month that Detroit fails to attract the right workers.
“Look, it’s no secret why we couldn’t even make the final 20 cities on the list for Amazon’s potential second headquarters site. It wasn’t because of a lack of mass transit, although that is important. It wasn’t because of a lack of cultural opportunities, or because of the weather. . . . It came down to a simple talent deficit,” he said.
GM and its core executives have been outspoken over the need for engineers and other STEM-related professionals. Reuss added that the U.S. currently faces an engineer shortage, and in two years, the country may be without 500,000 much-needed engineers.
He called for a renewed focus on education and tweaks to the system to introduce students to STEM fields at an earlier age.
However, Reuss’ diagnosis isn’t accepted by everyone. Dan Gilbert, chairman and founder of Quicken Loans, said Detroit’s old image plagued the city’s bid for the HQ from the beginning.
“Old, negative reputations do not die easily. I believe this is the single largest obstacle that we face,” Gilbert said.