Calgary will fight a bear, Toronto offers monetary savings in Amazon HQ2 showdown

calgary amazon

As Amazon’s RFP from cities interested in hosting its second headquarters ends at midnight, governments across Canada are releasing their final bids in hopes of attracting the planned $5 billion dollar USD project.

Toronto Global, the city’s economic development agency, released its 189-page bid for Amazon’s second headquarters.

Toronto Global’s value propositions were similar to those made during the Ontario government’s announcement yesterday of a $30 million investment in Vector Institute to support new machine learning grads, as well as a promise to increase the number of STEM grads. The agency cites Canada’s favourable immigration policies, strong tech talent thanks to its universities, and a strong quality of life.

Toronto Global’s bid also included a letter from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who told Bezos of the country’s Innovation Agenda and Canada’s policy of multiculturalism.

Vancouver is hand-delivering its bid to Amazon today.

“Amazon has already established roots in Canada, creating thousands of good jobs, and taking advantage of leading technologies in areas such as artificial intelligence and drones. We are grateful for the confidence Amazon has put in our people. We look forward to expanding this partnership,” Trudeau writes.

Toronto Global submitted the bid for ‘Toronto Region,’ and included cities like Durham, York, Brampton, Caledon, Mississauga, Guelph, Hamilton, Kitchener-Waterloo, and Halton. In a media briefing, Toronto Global said that Amazon could save $1.5 billion a year on talent relative to operating costs in the US, meaning that the company could save $15 billion over 10 years as Toronto talent is, on average, 30 percent cheaper than in US cities.

It also said that the company could save on healthcare costs for employees thanks to the country’s universal health care system — savings that amount to $600 million a year.

Calgary launched an ad campaign to get Amazon’s attention, including offering to fight a bear in a full-page ad in the Seattle Times, and guerrilla-style marketing around the city.

Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi called the overall effort a “top-notch pitch.” Nenshi also noted Canada’s universal health care as a cost-saver for Amazon, and its “dark-fibre” network of high-speed digital connectivity.

The city’s 200-page bid says that Amazon’s costs, such as labour, electricity, and taxes, would be 14 per cent lower in Calgary than in Seattle. The city could also leverage funds to “invest” with Amazon on a new campus using a community revitalization levy.

The city won’t be providing any additional tax incentives. It also did not publicly release its bid to avoid sharing commercially-sensitive information.

Vancouver, for its part, hand-delivered its bid to Amazon today. The city will likely share its bid on Monday after giving Amazon a chance to review it first.

UPDATE 10/23/17 @ 6:48 P.M. EST:

    While the Vancouver Economic Commission did not release Vancouver region’s full proposal, it released a few key points, while also declining to provide cash incentives. Its proposal includes:

  • Similar to other Canadian cities, built-in cost savings related to office real estate, health care, tax rates, and labour.
  • “Millions” of square feet of space throughout the region to support Amazon’s identified 500,000 feet move-in needs on day one.
  • Strong educational institutions which awarded 30,000 STEM credentials and 13,000 business degrees between 2014 to 2016.
  • Ottawa Region‘s pitch — completed in partnership with Gatineau in order to meet Amazon’s required one million population size — highlights the strengths of both cities’ tech sector, talent, and post-secondary institutions. The two cities also did not give full details on their proposals, but said that Amazon would enter the region just as the two cities prepared to develop 120 acres of pre-planned and close to shovel-ready public and private lands.

Jessica Galang

Jessica Galang

Jessica Galang is BetaKit's News Editor.