Amazon's HQ2 opportunity a 'tasty morsel,' says Edmonton mayor

Edmonton could make a “great case” for a second headquarters for e-commerce giant Amazon, Mayor Don Iveson said Thursday. “We are exploring it," he told reporters.

'If they are really hunting for value, I think we could make a great case,' Iveson tells reporters

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson says he's interested in exploring the possibility of bidding for a second Amazon headquarters. (CBC)

Edmonton could make a "great case" as the home of a second headquarters for e-commerce giant Amazon, Mayor Don Iveson said Thursday.

"The Amazon [request for proposals] is kind of a tasty morsel that I think mayors and economic development people all perked up and said, 'You know, that would be phenomenal to have that in our community,' " Iveson told reporters.

"Certainly we take the opportunity very seriously, and if there's an opportunity for us to put in a bid I wouldn't want us to let that opportunity go by."

The Seattle-based company said earlier Thursday it is looking for locations for something it is calling HQ2 — a second headquarters. The company said it will invest $5 billion US to develop the site and within a decade house as many as 50,000 workers in more than eight million square feet of space.

Edmonton wasn't alone in expressing immediate interest on Thursday.

Calgary, Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa and Halifax are also waving their flags.

"We are exploring it, we're looking at the RFP," Iveson said. "If they are shopping for a bargain basement and tax incentives that Alberta couldn't afford right now, for example, that might make it more difficult. But if they are really hunting for value, I think we could make a great case."

Edmonton boasts "great talent," affordable downtown real estate, strong technology and research communities and "multiple direct flights a day to Seattle," Iveson said.
Iveson says Amazon's request for proposals is a "tasty morsel" the city is already exploring. (Min Dhariwal/CBC)

But he cautioned that Amazon would have to approach Edmonton as a respectable suitor.

"If they're looking for massive tax concessions and just shopping for bargain basement, then that hasn't been our traditional economic development model. And what tends to happen in those cases is that when those tax incentives run out, those headquarters move," the mayor said.

"So I think we have to take a closer look at what Amazon is looking for.

"But if they are looking for a long-term partnership where they can grow and leverage the tech community and the research community that exists in our innovation corridor, which runs from NAIT to the University of Alberta right through downtown, then I think there would be something to talk about."

Iveson said he has already spoken to Edmonton and regional economic development officials about the idea.

If the city did decide to make a push to win Amazon's second headquarters, the metro region would need to pull together, he added. Any bid would require collaboration with surrounding counties and the Edmonton International Airport, he said.