Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said it’s disappointing the province won’t be home to Amazon’s second headquarters.
Toronto is the only Canadian city to make the short-list for the e-commerce giant’s new North American office.
Notley said her office spoke with the Seattle-based company and was told the Calgary bid was particularly exciting and reflected well on Alberta.
“They said that they’ve got a whole new idea of Alberta and that Calgary did an excellent job,” the premier said.
“I just really want to thank both cities for the work that they did on those bids. I also think there are a lot of other things that Albertans — and Calgarians in particular — can be proud of in terms of what we have to talk about to sell our city.”
The president of Calgary Economic Development said staff put in a lot of effort and are upset the city didn’t make the cut.
“We’re definitely disappointed, but certainly wish Toronto luck,” Mary Moran said.
Asked why she thought Calgary wasn’t selected for the shortlist, Morgan pointed to the need for a stronger labour pool in the tech sector.
“I think what we’re not necessarily set up for is the economy of tomorrow.
“So whether it’s Amazon or Google or Microsoft, everybody’s trying to figure out how to digitize all the industrial sectors and I think we don’t necessarily have the right talent.”
Watch below: Calgary Economic Development responds to loss of Amazon HQ2 bid
Notley said the exercise underscored that the province needs to up its game when it comes to developing mass transit systems. Notley said Alberta is as big an economic centre as British Columbia and Ontario, but investment in transit lagged under previous governments.
Edmonton’s mayor also thought it was interesting that Amazon stressed the importance of public transit in its bid requirements.
“Amazon wasn’t just asking for cost things; they were asking for quality of life things and infrastructure considerations,” Don Iveson said. “They were specifying mass transit for labour mobility and they were specifying even bike lanes as options for their talent to get to work. Some cities are in better shape on those things than others.”
Iveson said the experience of putting together a bid was worthwhile.
“It was a great exercise to go through the bid process,” he said. “It helped us think about areas where we’re strong, areas where we don’t have certain competitive advantages.
“The whole thing was interesting, but it’s not really our economic development strategy to go after other people’s head offices. Our economic development strategy remains working with our entrepreneurs and innovators here to grow companies from Edmonton that are going to open offices elsewhere.”
Watch below: Amazon has revealed its shortlist of cities competing for its second headquarters. Just one Canadian city is left and it’s not Edmonton.
The premier said diversifying Alberta’s economy away from oil and gas won’t happen overnight and the Amazon bid was a good learning experience.
“There’s no question, it’s unfortunate. It would have been great to have gotten that deal,” Notley said Thursday.
“In the meantime, we are certainly going to continue our work that is focused on diversification. We have a province where there was a lot of talk of diversification for many years, but not a lot of work going on about it.”
Notley said over the last two-and-a-half years the Alberta government has made a lot of investments to turn that corner.
Watch below: One of the world’s most valuable companies is looking for a new place to set up shop. Amazon says it will invest 5 billion dollars for a site that could house up to 50,000 employees. Mike Drolet reports.
— With files from Global’s Emily Mertz and Melissa Gilligan