Amazon may create software center in Detroit

Katherine Yung|Detroit Free Press

Amazon.com appears to be in the early stages of trying to create a software development center in Detroit, according to two job listings from the Internet retailer.

Having a high-tech Amazon presence in Detroit would be a huge boost for efforts to transform the long-battered city into a tech hub. It would also provide new ammunition for brick-and-mortar retailers in the state who have been pushing for sales taxes to be collected on online purchases made at Amazon and other Internet shopping sites.

Amazon’s corporate website features a job opening for a software development engineer based in Detroit, where it currently does not operate any offices.

Another job posting found on Twitter.com also states that Amazon is looking for a software development engineer “to be a part of a unique opportunity to join the seller experience team in building an Amazon Development Center in Detroit.”

This job listing urges interested applicants to contact Brian Singer, an Amazon software development manager. In the posting, Singer said Amazon is planning an interview event on Aug. 6-7. Singer did not return messages left by the Free Press on Monday.

Ty Rogers, a spokesman for Seattle-based Amazon, said in an e-mail, “I don’t have anything to offer on this.”

Amazon operates four software development centers in California and one in Charleston, S.C.

If Amazon establishes a development center in Detroit, it would be the third high-profile Internet firm to come to Michigan in recent years. Google made a big splash in 2007 by opening an advertising sales office in downtown Ann Arbor. And in April, Twitter, the popular social-media messaging site, said it is opening a small sales office in downtown Detroit.

It’s unclear where Amazon may locate the center. Dan Gilbert, founder and chairman of Detroit-based Quicken Loans, the online mortgage lender, is leading efforts to create a high-tech hub in downtown Detroit known as Detroit 2.0. His property management firm, Bedrock Real Estate Services, has already attracted a slew of new-economy firms to the area, including Twitter.

“Bedrock Real Estate Services has not leased space to Amazon. However, we would welcome them to our Detroit 2.0 renaissance,” Bruce Schwartz, Bedrock’s Detroit relocation ambassador, said in a statement.

If Amazon sets up an office in Detroit, the retailer runs the risk of having to start charging its Michigan customers the state’s 6% sales tax.

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