Province builds team to help Alberta cities bidding on Amazon headquarters

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Province builds team to help Alberta cities bidding on Amazon headquarters
WATCH: The Alberta government is hoping a new team will help lure Amazon’s second North American headquarters. Tony Tighe reports. – Sep 25, 2017

The provincial government has put together a team to help Alberta cities vying to become home to Amazon’s second North American headquarters.

“There’s a reason Alberta is home to the highest concentration of international headquarters in Canada,” Premier Rachel Notley said in a news release on Monday.

“We have the youngest, best-educated and most productive workforce in the country. We also have the most competitive costs to do business, including our universal health-care access.

“We’ve brought this team together to focus on creating maximum benefit for Albertans because we know that showcasing our cities to the world means new economic opportunities here at home.”

READ MORE: Possibility of hosting Amazon North American headquarters has Alberta mayors excited 

So far, Edmonton and Calgary have expressed interest.

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WATCH: Why one expert thinks this Alberta city could be a finalist for 50,000 new jobs

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Is Amazon’s new headquarters headed for Canada?

“Obviously, as the government of Alberta, our objective is to get that headquarters into this province,” Notley said. “We have two competitive municipalities who are interested in competing in that process and that’s great.

“We’ve brought this group together to give us the best advice possible for how we, as a provincial government, can support the bids effectively and also to ensure that we coordinate effectively with the federal government.

“If either municipality is successful in winning this bid… both will benefit,” Notley said. “All Albertans will benefit.”

The provincial Amazon HQ2 Leadership Team will help bidding cities and identify ways the government could support those bids.

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William Sembo, a retired investment banker who oversaw the creation of Cenovus Energy and Nexen, is heading up the new team. He chaired the first meeting Monday morning.

Other members of the team include:

  • Mary Moran: Calgary Economic Development, president and CEO
  • Glen Vanstone: Edmonton Economic Development Corporation, vice-president, Trade and Investment
  • Elizabeth Cannon: University of Calgary, president and vice-chancellor
  • David Turpin: University of Alberta, president and vice-chancellor
  • Dwayne Dreger: Invest Alberta, executive director
  • Laura J. Kilcrease: Alberta Innovates, CEO
  • Deron Bilous: Minister of Economic Development and Trade

Earlier in September, Amazon announced it was hunting for a site for a new headquarters in North America, in addition to its sprawling Seattle hub. The tech company says that it will spend more than $5 billion US to build the second headquarters in North America which would house as many as 50,000 employees.

Amazon plans to stay in its current Seattle headquarters and the new space will be an equal to its current home, said Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos.

READ MORE: Cavendish Farms announces huge expansion in Lethbridge 

“We’ve seen Cavendish, Google, RocketSpace and Champion make important expansions in our province this year as we work to grow and diversify our economy,” Bilous said.

“I’ve met with Amazon executives directly and they’ve been clear that a Team Alberta approach is important to demonstrate our government is serious about helping them expand here too.”

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Sembo said the team believes Alberta is the best place to invest and do business.

“We can compete with many other jurisdictions when it comes to attracting leading businesses to Alberta,” he said. “In Alberta, one discovers everybody is building, everything is new; nothing is beyond improvement and our horizons are limitless.”

READ MORE: Prominent artificial intelligence firm to open 1st lab outside UK in Edmonton 

The team is promoting the following benefits for Amazon having headquarters in Alberta: cost savings, extensive trade infrastructure, well-qualified workforce and post-secondary support.

“To clearly and strongly position Alberta as a future home for Amazon’s second headquarters, it will take collaboration, participation and support from Alberta’s private sector and NGOs,” the premier said. “That’s why we’re showing leadership today by assembling a team of industry experts to help us spread the word that Alberta cities can compete with the best in the world.”

Notley would not say if Alberta would offer specific financial incentives or loan guarantees to convince the online retailer to set up in the province. She said the overriding goal of any proposition is value for Alberta and for the province’s economy.

Seattle-based Amazon is taking applications until Oct. 19 and will make a decision next year.

— With a file from The Canadian Press


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