Toronto Global has released its bid to attract Amazon’s second company headquarters to the Toronto Region, which includes the City of Toronto as well as Kitchener-Waterloo, Hamilton, Guelph, Caledon, Brampton, Mississauga, York, and Durham.
Amazon announced plans for a second company headquarters (known as HQ2) in early September and it requested proposals from interested cities and regions. Amazon promises to add 500,000 new jobs to the local economy of the chosen city and will invest over $5 billion in construction.
Toronto Global, a not-for-profit organization funded by the federal, provincial, and municipal governments, prepared and submitted the bid for the Toronto Region. In its cover letter, it notes that the Toronto Region offers several competitive advantages, including affordable talent, a corporate tax rate lower than most United States jurisdictions, and universal health care, which it estimates could save Amazon up to $600 million per year if it chooses to locate HQ2 in Canada.
The Toronto Region bid focuses on several areas that are seen as competitive advantages for the region: the talent pipeline, the competitive business climate, the quality of life, and the region’s integrated transportation and infrastructure.
As of 2016, the population of the Toronto Region was 7.8 million people. Toronto Global notes that this significantly exceeds Amazon’s requirement for a metro region of 1 million. The Toronto region added 433,537 people over the last five years and 39.7 percent of the current population is foreign-born.
Toronto Global highlights that the region is the third-largest technology hub in North America and has the most highly-educated population in the OECD, with 67 percent of the population having a postsecondary degree.
It also notes that the region is home to 18 colleges and universities, with two new campuses scheduled to open soon. In the last year, Ontario graduated 40,000 Science and Engineering students and three of the Toronto Region’s universities—University of Toronto, Waterloo University, and McMaster University— were ranked in the Top 200 in the 2018 QS Global University Rankings.
The bid states that “[i]n an age of divisiveness and unrest, Canada is a beacon of stability, tolerance, talent, and opportunity.” It stresses the region’s market access, stability, and growth, including the fact that, for the last eight years, Canada has been ranked as having the soundest banking system in the world, according to the World Economic Forum.
The bid also notes that combined federal and provincial corporate income tax rates in the Toronto Region are 26.5%, which is 12.4% lower than the U.S. average and 4.3% lower than the G7 average.
In addition, the lower value of the Canadian dollar would make doing business in the Toronto Region more cost-effective for an American company such as Amazon.
Toronto Global hopes the fact that the Toronto Region – specifically Waterloo – is at the forefront of quantum computing will attract Amazon. The bid notes that the region is also a leader in artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, food processing, financial services, life sciences, and film and television production.
In addition, Toronto Global suggests that Union Station, Canada’s busiest transit hub, is a natural fit for Amazon Go, the company’s checkout-free grocery store.
Quality of Life
The bid notes the Toronto Region’s leading position in several important quality of life metrics, including safety, crime, healthcare, education, housing, culture, entertainment, and economic and geophysical stability.
It mentions that Toronto placed ahead of all American cities in Mercer’s 2017 Quality of Life Survey Index, that The Economist ranked Toronto the safest city in North America in 2017, and that Toronto has been recognized as one of the greenest cities in the world by MIT’s SENSEable City Lab’s 2017 Green View Index.
The region’s arts, culture, sports, and festivals are also highlighted, including the Toronto International Film Festival, Toronto Pride events, the Toronto Caribbean Carnival, the Carassauga Festival, and various music festivals, such as OVO Fest, Field Trip, Hillside, and the Sound of Music Festival.
Several notable food festivals, museums, and art galleries were also showcased.
Transportation and Infrastructure
To stress the region’s focus on infrastructure, the bid mentions how Ontario is currently spending $154.5 billion US in this area, with a third targeted towards transportation. The size of the region’s transit network is also mentioned, as 2.25 million people travel through the Toronto Region by bus, train, or subway each day.
This portion of the bid also includes the fact that the City of Toronto has the third-best transit score when compared to other prominent cities and major tech markets in North America.
In addition to an integrated rapid transit network that includes regional rail, subways, streetcars, light rapid transit, and buses, the Toronto Region also features an extensive road network of provincial and municipal highways, and it is served by two international airports: Lester B. Pearson Toronto International and Billy Bishop City Centre Airport (YTZ),
The Toronto Region bid also includes details on potential sites in the region for Amazon’s HQ2. These include:
- Downtown Toronto
- Downtown Mississauga
- Markham Municipal Centre
- Vaughan Municipal Centre
- Brampton Powerade Centre
- Pickering, Seaton Lands
- Ajax, Carruthers Creek Business Park
- Milton, 401 Fronting Land
- Oakville, Trafalgar and 407
- Burlington, Bronte Meadows
The bid stresses that there are “ample real estate development opportunities across all property types in the Toronto Region to meet Amazon’s space requirements” and that the region “boasts some of the world’s most sophisticated real estate developers, operators, and investors.”
The full details of the bid can be found online at TorontoGlobal.ca/Amazon