Toronto Region consortium launches bid for Amazon’s new North American headquarters

Toronto skyline

The cities of Toronto, Mississauga and Brampton — as well as the regions of Durham, Halton and York — are vying for Amazon’s new HQ2 headquarters.

The six municipalities formally announced their joint bid for Amazon’s new headquarters in a September 13th, 2017 media release.

The consortium is being led by Toronto Global, a federally and provincially funded consultation group aimed at improving Toronto’s economic appeal.

Appealing to Amazon’s needs

According to Brampton mayor Linda Jeffrey, the consortium began discussing the bid roughly one week ago, soon after Amazon announced that they were looking for a second host city.

“Land requirements, workforce, proximity, transportation, airport, the partnerships we already have as a big city were ideal,” said Jeffrey, in a phone call with MobileSyrup. “We’ve had a conversation with the other mayors…[and] regional chairs to say ‘Let’s do this.’”

Jeffrey believes that her city, as well as the other five members of the joint bid, is more than qualified to host a second major Amazon headquarters, largely due to the region’s strong economy, talent pool and tech sector presence.

“We’re going to heed their requests exactly, in fact I think we’re going to exceed it in some areas,” said Jeffrey.

Amazon already does business in the Toronto region, with two facilities in Brampton, one in Mississauga, one in Milton, as well as a corporate office in Toronto.

In an email, Mississauga mayor Bonnie Crombie said that “Mississauga and the Toronto would be the leader destination for Amazon to invest, expand service offerings and further cement its reputation as a global business giant.”

“Mississauga and Toronto Region have highly skilled talent, national infrastructure and access to international markets that will ensure Amazon can meet and exceed the demands of its global customers,” said Crombie.

Looking beyond the GTA

As for cities slightly outside the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) — like Guelph, Kitchener and Waterloo — Jeffrey explained that she’d be open to their involvement. However, she added that the consortium does not “have time to hope that cities can scale up and help this company grow.”

“I appreciate that cities outside the Toronto would like to bid and I’m sure they will,” said Jeffrey. “We’re stronger together…this is like an Olympics bid.”

In an interview with CBC News, Toronto mayor John Tory expressed interest in having Waterloo join in a bid.

“When you add up all the things we have in the region and if you had the good fortune to get Waterloo to go along, we will have a bid that is as competitive as any other bid will be,” said Tory, to the CBC.

Addressing the critics — and the competition

As for those who have expressed disapproval of the attempt to woo Amazon into investing in Canada, Jeffrey said that her thoughts are primarily focused on developing her city’s economy.

“I think the effort is worth it to bring future economic development to my city,” said Jeffrey. “My sense is that whenever an opportunity [arises] for me to bring economic development, innovation and investment to my city, I’m there.”

Ontario’s minister of economic development and growth, Brad Duguid, also defended the decision to make a bid.

“If Amazon comes to Ontario, the whole province wins,” said Duiguid, in an email to MobileSyrup.

The Toronto-region consortium is currently just one of several municipalities in North America currently vying for Amazon’s attention.

Vancouver has also expressed an interest in proposing a bid, while the Toronto Star’s Vjosa Isai reported that Boston, Pittsburgh, Chicago and Detroit all have plans to bid.

“We know that we face fierce competition from jurisdictions across North America, but we believe that Ontario is an excellent location for Amazon to set up its second North American HQ and provide 50,000 skilled jobs for Ontarians,” said Duguid. “Over the next month, we will continue to work across all levels of government to present the best case for coming here.”

A distinctly Canadian sensibility

Toronto Global’s board chair Mark Cohon also said that Toronto’s inclusivity makes it an especially strong contender. He emphasized the city’s “mosaic community” and its 51-percent foreign-born population as especially attractive.

Toronto Global has until October 19th, 2017 to submit a formal bid to Amazon.

In the meanwhile, the company has tasked the six municipalities with coming up with a list of sites capable of hosting Amazon’s sprawling ambitions.

“We’re going through a process with the members of Toronto Global,” said Mark Cohon, the chair of Toronto’s board of directors, in a phone call with MobileSyrup.

Source: Toronto Global

Image courtesy of Flickr user Matthieu Jolivet

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