It’s a waiting game now for cities across North America as the application deadline to become home to Amazon’s second headquarters passed on Thursday.
At least eight Canadian cities submitted a bid for the facility, dubbed HQ2, and at least three experts say it’s likely up to Ontario if our country hopes to win the facility.
“If I have to guess, I would say that Toronto has the best chance among Canadian cities to attract the $5 billion capital investment and 50,000 jobs that Amazon will bring with it by opening a second headquarters,” Vanessa Alviarez, assistant professor at UBC’s Sauder School of Business told BNN via email.
Toronto’s scale, population, research hubs, and proximity to Pearson International Airport likely work in its favour, she said.
The Greater Toronto Area also offers the best “city-brand culture,” according to another expert.
“Amazon is seeking to blend into the brand culture of a city that prominently features diversity, innovation, and infrastructure tailored to the creative class,” Peter Widdis, a marketing and innovation professor at George Brown College, told BNN by email.
Toronto Global, the foreign direct investment agency helping the region with its proposal, released a 192-page pitch which included a letter from Prime Minister Trudeau and highlighted the city’s quality of life.
“But what makes us truly different in the North American context is our values,” the document said. “At a time when humanistic values are being challenged around the world, we remain staunchly liberal and tolerant.”
Ottawa is garnering some attention as a suitable location for HQ2 as well.
“Both [Ottawa and Toronto] have a large enough population, afford access to skilled workers, and have demonstrated a willingness to be creative with their development regulations in support of large commercial projects,” Alex Mitchell, teaching fellow and Ph.D. candidate at Queen’s University’s Smith School of Business, said in an email to BNN.
“Ottawa, in particular, has a legacy technology sector, lots of room for additional large-scale construction, accessible international air transportation capacity with room to expand, and a location in relative proximity to major cities in the Midwest and [on the] eastern seaboard.”
The experts agree that western cities such as Calgary or Vancouver have a great pitch for Amazon, but geography is working against them.
“Vancouver is also a Canadian city with very important amenities, like Toronto, and it shares the attributes that Canada as a country could offer to Amazon. However, I think that it is too close to Seattle to offer the advantages of a second headquarter,” Alviarez said.
However, for Canadian cities, it might all be for naught.
“My sense is that ultimately Amazon’s HQ2 will be located in the U.S.,” Mitchell said. “My thought is that the Cincinnati area offers the kinds of features that align with Amazon’s wish-list, it already supports major headquarters for several other Fortune 500 companies, and it still offers a lower cost of living with room for significant development.”