'Welcome to unstoppable,' Here's how Hamilton sold itself to Amazon

The City of Hamilton has released the bid it sent to Amazon for HQ2. The document pitches Hamilton's arts and culture scene, low violent activity and growing millennial population.

The city calls itself a safe city and one with a vibrant culture scene for HQ2 employees

The City of Hamilton submitted its bid for Amazon's new headquarters last month. (City of Hamilton)

The City of Hamilton is calling itself "the coolest city in Canada," in the now public 185-page bid to Amazon's HQ2. The bid puts a heavy focus on a high quality of life for potential Amazon employees.

Some sections of the bid have been removed due to confidentiality reasons.

The bid tackles aspects of living from affordable housing prices, walkability, a lively arts and culture scene and calls it "a safe city for HQ2 and your families."

Testimonials are peppered throughout the bid to support the City's claims.

One of them is from Matt Johnston, the co-founder of Collective Arts Brewing in Hamilton, "We needed to be in a city that doesn't 'empty at night' like so many big urban centres."

The graph shows the increase in the number of millennials in the city, which has surpassed the number of baby-boomers several years ago. (City of Hamilton)

The testimonial follows the pitch that Hamilton has a growing young adult population that is growing faster than that of Toronto or Waterloo Region. It adds millennials outnumber baby-boomers in the city at 28 per cent of the population.

"Millennials are drawn to our city," the bid says.

The bid also calls Hamilton a "people place," boasting great connectivity on public transit throughout the city and the local bike sharing program SoBi.

The bid mentions Hamilton's bike paths and multi-use trails, one page features a photograph from the 2003 UCI championships, a bicycle road racing competition. (City of Hamilton)

Another section boasts Hamilton's low violent activity in comparison to other Canadian cities that have also shown interest in Amazon HQ2, referencing Statistics Canada.

"Hamilton's rate of drug violations is 16 per cent below the Canadian average," the bid writes.

The bid includes quotes from other media publications that have featured Hamilton in previous issues. (City of Hamilton)

Half a million dollars in the mail

The bid cost the city approximately $500,000, half of which is paid by private donors. The City sent the document to Amazon last month.

The money was partially used to hire consultants who are familiar with bidding to Amazon, Chris Murray, the city manager, told CBC News in late September. 

He said even if Hamilton doesn't win the bid, the information can be used in the future.

"This work we're doing is going to produce dividends well beyond anything related to Amazon," Murray said.

While HQ2 is mentioned throughout the bid, the language used is general enough that it may be repurposed for other investors.

Not all was in favour of spending $500,000 on the bid. Coun. Matthew Green of Ward 3 said last month the expense might be futile in comparison to bigger cities that can spend millions on the bid.

"Will a half million dollar bid be competitive," Green said, "or are we throwing good money after bad?"

What other Canadian cities are bidding

Amazon is finding a home for its second headquarters, or HQ2, and will invest $5 billion US to develop the location. The retailer says within a decade, it'll house as many as 50,000 workers in more than eight million square feet of space.

Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Windsor, Toronto and Halifax are several other Canadian cities who sent their bids in the mail last month.

Vancouver's major selling point was its proximity to Amazon's first headquarter location in Seattle, while Halifax offered its Shannon Park, an abandoned military enclave, as a potential HQ2 location.

Hamilton has not specified where HQ2 would be located should the city win the bid.

Amazon expects to announce the winner early next year.

With files from Samantha Craggs


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