Lac La Biche publisher pens letter to Amazon to consider rural headquarters

An aerial view of Lac La Biche. Courtesy: Facebook/Lac La Biche Post

It may have started as a tongue-in-cheek attempt to lure Amazon to a small rural Alberta county, but an article posted in a Lac La Biche paper evolved into a way to share some of the community’s greatest attributes.

“It was meant to be fun… but hopefully it makes you think: ‘Maybe…'”

Rob McKinley is the publisher of the Lac La Biche Post. Every so often, he writes editorials that slant to the “funny” side of “thought provoking.”

This week, he set his sights on online retail giant Amazon, who is looking for a new headquarters location.

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

“Though some might think our community of just 9,000 people is ‘punching out of its class’ with this request, how else are we going to show our knockout abilities if we don’t get in the ring?” he wrote.

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“Cost of living in our pristine part of the world is decent too. A loaf of bread is a couple of bucks. An average-tasting bottle of wine is $10, a sheet of half-inch 4X8 plywood is $17, and a great-tasting, grain-fed, Canadian bred AAA T-bone steak won’t break the bank.  While our cost of living is decent, our quality of life is exceptional,” the post continued.

“We have a giant recreation complex where you can swim, skate, run, bike, skydive, hunt… Of course, we’re talking about the biggest recreation area with a roof of clouds and walls of trees. The Great Outdoors is on our doorstep.

“Honestly, we know this offer is coming from left field. It’s also coming from outside the official channels of our provincial government. But that’s us.

“We are rebels. We are adventurers. We are confident. We are trailblazers. Sound familiar?”

While McKinley admits the letter was meant to be fun, he also feels it became a little nod to the best parts of small communities across the province.

“I thought it’d be kind of fun, like a what-if, Christmas-wishlist-from-a-little-boy-who-wants-the-world kind of thing, pie in the sky, tongue in cheek,” he told Global News. “It’s column fodder. I thought it would be kind of interesting to, in a way, promote rural Alberta.”

“As I was writing it, I started putting down the reasons we could do it, in a hypothetical, completely made up kind of way, and by the end of it, to be honest, 98 per cent of me is thinking, ‘this is so silly and fun,’ but there was two per cent of, ‘What if?'”

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READ MORE: Province builds team to help Alberta cities bidding on Amazon headquarters 

When Amazon announced it was hunting for a site for a new headquarters in North America, several big Canadian cities threw their names into the hat.

Mayors in Calgary and Edmonton declared their intentions to vie for the gig.

Then, the province announced a leadership team that would help Alberta cities craft the most attractive bids.

Amazon says it will spend more than $5 billion US to build the second headquarters (outside Seattle) which would house as many as 50,000 employees.

In his letter, McKinley outlines the reasons Lac La Biche shouldn’t be overlooked.

“I’m still waiting for Amazon to get back to me,” he said with a laugh.

So far, there’s been no formal commitment from local politicians, but McKinley says they’re being “good sports” about the proposal and the nature in which it was presented.

“You’ve got to dream big. It doesn’t hurt.”

McKinley said the letter hasn’t been sent to Amazon directly. The piece was mostly intended for the community.

“It’s been pretty good,” he said of the public response. The online article has been read thousands of times since it was posted on Monday.

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“If Amazon listens or reads this, I would like them to build here, but any little community has lots of attributes and I guess that’s what it comes down to,” McKinley said.

“Maybe that ‘why not?’ is the whole thing.”