Toronto makes cut of top 20 cities vying to be Amazon's 2nd headquarters

Toronto is the only Canadian city to make the list of the top 20 cities that Amazon is considering for its second headquarters.

It's the only Canadian city left in the running

Amazon has released a list of 20 cities for its second North American headquarters, with Toronto the only Canadian city to make the cut. (David Horemans/CBC)

Toronto has made the cut of the top 20 cities that e-commerce giant Amazon is considering for its second headquarters.

Toronto is the only Canadian city to make the short list that also includes 19 U.S. cities, mainly concentrated along its East Coast and Midwest regions.

More than 10 cities in Canada had pitched to become the second North American home of the world's biggest online merchandise retailer. 

In total, Amazon received 238 applications.

Amazon said on Twitter that narrowing the list to 20 cities was tough.

They also include:

  • Boston.
  • New York City.
  • Newark, N.J.
  • Chicago.
  • Washington D.C.
  • Raleigh, N.C.
  • Northern Va. 
  • Atlanta.
  • Miami.
  • Columbus, Ohio.
  • Los Angeles.
  • Dallas.
  • Austin, Texas.
  • Philadelphia.
  • Pittsburgh.
  • Indianapolis.
  • Denver.
  • Nashville.
  • Montgomery County, Md.

What's next?

The next step in the selection process will be to take a "deeper dive" into the proposals by the remaining cities in the coming months and evaluate the feasibility of a future partnership, said Amazon.

The company expects to make a final decision this year.

It plans to spend over $5 billion US on the second campus, which will be a "full equal" to its current headquarters in Seattle, Wash. Amazon estimates its investments in that city, from 2010 to 2016, have added $38 billion to the city's economy.

The second location is expected to create 50,000 high-paying jobs.

Toronto's bid

Toronto Mayor John Tory lauded Amazon's decision to choose the city for its short list, saying he would work with surrounding municipality mayors and regional chairs through the bidding process.

"I will continue to do whatever I can to bring good secure jobs to Toronto. They are crucial to our ongoing success," he said.

However, Canadian telecom entrepreneur Anthony Lacavera said it's unlikely Toronto will become Amazon's next headquarters.

"The Trump administration has been very clear on expectations of prioritizing U.S. domestic job creation and repatriation of jobs that are currently abroad," he said. 

"I highly doubt Amazon would want to draw any negative fire from the U.S. administration."

Amazon had listed the criteria for its second hub to include a metropolitan area with more than one million people that had the ability to attract top technical talent, along with other assets such as an accessible mass transit system.

But it also wanted tax breaks and grants for being based in that location. 

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said other U.S. tech giants like Apple, Google and IBM already do research and development in the province. 

"Ontario's greatest strength is our people and that's exactly what we communicated directly to Amazon's CEO, Jeff Bezos," she said. 

"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," she said.

Financial push

Some cities have publicly released details of financial incentives they offered Amazon in their bids in order to be considered.

New Jersey officials offered up to $5 billion to Amazon, with an additional $2 billion in tax breaks from Newark, while Boston included $75 million for affordable housing for its employees.

Various Toronto officials have repeatedly said that the city did not offer tax incentives or other financial subsidies to the tech giant.

Former city planner Jennifer Keesmaat tweeted about how Toronto did things right.


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