Analysts say Canadian cities fail to make top 10 for Amazon HQ2


A new list by ranking the top cities for Amazon’s HQ2 shows that none of the Canadian cities made it to the top 10.

The list by Sperling’s Best Places ranked Vancouver last on the list of 64 cities. Toronto took the 12th place right before Pittsburgh and San Jose. 

The ranking is based on 18 studies of potential locations for the company’s global headquarters. The Sperling’s team then created one “super-study” tallying how each location performed, and generated a score for each place.

“As several pundits have pointed out, finding a metropolitan area that meets all Amazon’s criteria is not only difficult, but impossible.”
– Brent Sperling

Amazon started RFPs two months ago, and outlined key priorities including a minimum regional population of one million, a major international airport within close proximity, a stable business climate, a strong public transit system, a highly-educated labour pool, and a diverse population.

Most Canadian cities did not fare well. Calgary tied with suburban Maryland at 55th, Montreal took the 56th place, and Ottawa is at 61st. Atlanta topped the list, followed by Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Austin, Dallas, Denver, and New York City.

“As several pundits have pointed out, finding a metropolitan area that meets all Amazon’s criteria is not only difficult, but impossible,” said Bert Sperling of Sperling’s Best Places. “And the HQ2 project is such a massive scale, that it can transform an area, adding missing infrastructure to meet its needs. In this unique case, conventional thinking may be a disadvantage. I expect to be surprised.”

Several of the Canadian cities that made their pitch cited Canada’s free healthcare system and favourable immigration policies as major benefits. The Ontario government injected an addition $30 million investment in the Vector Institute to support new machine learning grads, and promised to increase the number of STEM grads.

While they declined to share specifics, Vancouver’s pitch included built-in cost savings related to office real estate, health care, tax rates, and labour, and strong educational institutions. Ottawa’s pitch highlighted the strengths of the tech sector, talent, and post-secondary institutions.

Across North America, 238 cities presented proposals before the deadline last month.  Amazon plans on choosing a location for its second home in 2018.

Photo via NBBJ and Studio 216

Aeman Ansari

Aeman Ansari

Aeman Ansari is a freelance writer who has been published in many Toronto-based publications, including Hazlitt and Torontoist. When she’s not re-watching Hitchcock movies, she’s working on her collection of short fiction inspired by stories from her grandmother, one of the few women in India to receive post-secondary education in English literature at the time.