Toronto is second most suitable site for Amazon's new HQ but lack of tax breaks may hurt bid: study
In this April 27, 2017 file photo, construction continues on three large, glass-covered domes as part of an expansion of the Amazon.com campus in downtown Seattle. Amazon said Thursday, Sept. 7, that it will spend more than $5 billion to build another headquarters in North America to house as many as 50,000 employees. It plans to stay in its sprawling Seattle headquarters and the new space will be "a full equal" of its current home, said founder and CEO Jeff Bezos. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Chris Fox, CTV News Toronto
Published Thursday, May 17, 2018 6:13AM EDT
Toronto is behind only New York City when it comes to meeting Amazon’s criteria for hosting its second headquarters but when tax incentives are taken into consideration the city may find itself pushed down the list of candidate cities, a new analysis by a consultancy firm suggests.
Resonance, which specializes in real estate, tourism and economic development, has ranked all 20 cities included on Amazon’s shortlist according to how they perform in six key categories identified in the tech giant’s request for proposals.
Resonance’s analysis pegs New York City as the most suitable site for the second headquarters but Toronto is listed as the second most suitable site with Chicago, Northern Virginia and Los Angeles rounding out the top five.
The firm, however, identifies two factors that may hurt Toronto’s chances. It says that the lack of tax incentives offered in its bid could be seen as a negative. They also said that Amazon’s recent announcement that they will add 3,000 jobs to its operations in Vancouver may make it “less likely that they would choose another Canadian city for HQ2.”
The firm also suggests that New York City would be unlikely to be chosen due to the lack of available office space in that city, leaving Chicago, Northern Virginia and Los Angeles as the most likely candidates.
The analysis is based on how the shortlisted cities perform in the following categories: talent, cultural community fit, quality of life, housing affordability, recreational opportunities and a stable and friendly business environment.
“Regardless of where Amazon chooses to go, one key takeaway from this whole exercise is the growing importance that quality of place plays in luring new companies, large or small, to cities today,” the analysis states.
Toronto has offered up 10 possible locations across region
Amazon has previously said that its second headquarters, dubbed “HQ2,” will be equal to its Seattle base of operations in scale and eventually lead to the creation of 50,000 high-paying jobs.
In its 190-page bid submitted to Amazon in October, Toronto offered up 10 locations across the region that it said would be suitable for the company’s second headquarters, including a site in the Port Lands which could eventually be home to an estimated 10 million square feet in office space.
The bid did not offer any specific tax incentives, however. Instead it reiterated a provincial government
commitment to increase the number of annual post-secondary graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics by 25 per cent to 50,000.
“We have put a bid forward largely on the basis of quality of life, the ability that this region has to attract talent from around the world and to grow talent at home and I think in the end that is why we made the playoffs and what will carry us through,” Mayor John Tory told CP24 after Amazon revealed its short list in January. “I would be very surprised if we suddenly switched course now and said we found some pot of money that we frankly didn’t think was worthy of putting in in the first place.”
Amazon officials visited Toronto in March as part of its evaluation process.
It is not known when the company plans to make a decision on where its second headquarters will be located.