As Amazon announced the site of its next headquarters — split between New York City’s and Crystal City in Virginia — several members of Toronto Region responsible for the bid reacted with optimism.
Amazon launched its call for proposals a year ago, attracting the attention of Canadian cities like Vancouver, Windsor, and Calgary. Toronto was the only Canadian region to be shortlisted among 20 other cities.
However, it was confirmed in mid-November that Toronto was out of the running for HQ2. In a joint statement, mayors that participated in the Toronto Region bid with Toronto Global—including Toronto Mayor John Tory, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie, and then-Brampton Mayor Linda Jeffrey—expressed excitement at the fact that the city was shortlisted, and highlighted how its diverse talent pool made it an attractive destination for other companies like Etsy.
“Another distinguishing factor in our bid was the decision not to offer any incentives to entice Amazon to choose the Toronto Region,” the statement reads. “We are proud of our decision to compete solely on the unique strengths of our region, regardless of Amazon’s decision. We are also proud to have worked together as a region throughout the Amazon HQ2 process. The decision to release our bid book publicly, which has been downloaded 17,300 times to date, has opened the door to many conversations with international companies considering the Toronto Region. Global businesses don’t see municipal boundaries; instead they look to assets across an entire region to support their activities.”
BetaKit’s editors also had the opportunity to share their perspectives on the results, with news editor Jessica Galang and editor-in-chief Douglas Soltys appearing on Global News and CTV respectively:
“I think that we have a chance to build an ecosystem on our own, and I think that if Amazon came in, then Amazon would’ve become the ecosystem,” said Galang. “We can build our own Amazon.”
Soltys highlighted the fact that Toronto likely made the shortlist in the first place in anticipation of a travel ban. “This process started about 14 months ago, just a few short months after the travel ban when US tech companies were looking at how to diversify their talent outside of the US based upon some of the restrictions. I think ultimately they ended up where they were going to end up, and I think part of the reason why Toronto made the shortlist was to hedge against that.”