Amazon to Toronto: Are you hip enough for our HQ2?
Arts, culture and other quality of life issues were top of mind for Amazon.com Inc. officials in discussing Toronto as a possible location for its second headquarters with the city’s mayor.
Housing affordability, immigration and transit were also hot topics in the talks earlier this year, Mayor John Tory said.
“They spent what some people would probably find a surprising amount of time on what we’ll call, the sort of arts and culture, the general kind of life in the city,” Tory said at an interview. “And this as a livable city.”
Toronto is the only city outside of the U.S. to make the shortlist for Amazon’s second headquarters.
Dubbed HQ2, the company said the development is slated to cost more than US$5 billion and create 50,000 jobs.
Tech is already booming in North America’s fourth-biggest city with firms including Microsoft Corp., Uber Technologies Inc. and Shopify Inc. announcing plans for thousands of jobs in the past few months.
Choosing Toronto would provide a hedge against increasingly restrictive U.S. immigration policies, a big concern of tech companies since the election of Donald Trump as president; investing that much investment outside the country could also raise his ire.
The mayor said Amazon was “inscrutable” in terms of disclosing whether Toronto was a serious contender or even when it was going to decide.
“They sort of call and make the odd inquiry that’s checking on a fact or something, but they haven’t been giving a daily update as far as I know.”
Still, he said Amazon was “very flattering” about the diversity and depth of the city’s talent base, many of which have made their way south to the company’s U.S. operations, Tory said.
Toronto Mayor John Tory says Amazon was “flattering” about the city’s talent base.