Amazon has announced its shortlist for its second headquarters and Toronto is the only Canadian city to make the cut.
Last September, Amazon said it would build a second headquarters in North America with a price tag of nearly $5 billion, and potentially hire 50,000 people to fill high-paying jobs.
Amazon said it received proposals from 238 cities, including Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver, and have narrowed it down to 20.
The online retail giant, based in Seattle, said it would work with each candidate city over the next few months to dive deeper into the feasibility of each host area and plans to make a final decision sometime this year.
“Thank you to all 238 communities that submitted proposals. Getting from 238 to 20 was very tough – all the proposals showed tremendous enthusiasm and creativity,” Amazon spokesperson Holly Sullivan said in a statement. “Through this process we learned about many new communities across North America that we will consider as locations for future infrastructure investment and job creation.”
Other cities to make the cut include: Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City and Pittsburgh.
Toronto Mayor John Tory welcomed the news Thursday of the city making the short list.
“There is no other city region in North America that can boast the same talent, the same quality of life, the same vibrancy and economic strength,” the mayor said in a statement. “Toronto is a place where people want to live and I am dedicated to making sure that our quality of life keeps getting better. We are investing millions in transit expansion and state of good repair, affordable housing, parks and active transportation. We are working hard to elevate our reputation as a liveable, affordable city where everyone can succeed.”
The online retailer said a host city should have a population over one million. The proposed building site should be within a 45-minute drive of an international airport and no more than about three kilometres from a major highway and have access to mass transit on site.
Amazon’s current headquarters is a massive 8.1 million square feet, spread over 33 buildings, and hosts over 40,000 employees.
In the U.S., some state and local governments made public details of some of the financial incentives host cities would make available to Amazon as the company said in the past it wanted tax breaks and grants from the potential host city.
Boston’s offer includes $75 million for affordable housing for Amazon employees and others. Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie approved a measure to allow up to $5 billion in incentives to Amazon.
Sean Mullin, economist and public policy expert at the Brookfield Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, questions whether Toronto actually has a shot at landing the second headquarters.
“How much will Amazon weigh these financial incentives that other cities have put on,” Mullen tolg Global News. “And secondly, there’s this kind of intangible question about would Amazon really go so far as to set this up outside of the United States.”
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne also welcomed the news of Toronto making the shortlist.
“No competing U.S. city comes even close to offering this level of talent, nor can they measure up in the ways we are supporting both workers and businesses, be it through universal public health care, a strong system of publicly funded education, expanding access to quality and affordable child care or the magnitude of our commitment to public infrastructure,” Wynne said in the statement. Our fair, diverse and inclusive communities foster knowledge sharing and forward-thinking attitudes unparalleled with other regions across North America. And our world-class research institutions and generous R&D tax incentives make Ontario an ideal place to develop innovative new technologies and ideas.”
–Global News reporter David Shum contributed to this report. With a file from the Associated Press