'No doubt:' Waterloo Region to join Toronto in bid for Amazon HQ

Waterloo Region will take part in a regional bid to become the new home of Amazon's second headquarters, says Tony LaMantia, president and CEO of the Waterloo Region Economic Development Corporation.

'Let there be no doubt, we plan to join'

The Amazon logo is displayed at the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York's Times Square. (Richard Drew/The Associated Press)

Waterloo Region plans to join in a partnership of Toronto-area municipalities bidding to become the new home of Amazon's second North American headquarters. 

"Let there be no doubt, we plan to join to combine with the Toronto-region bid," said Tony LaMantia, president and CEO of the Waterloo Region Economic Development Corporation. 

The ecommerce giant plans to spend $5 billion to build a massive operation for up to 50,000 employees, equalling its current headquarters in Seattle.

The company issued a Request for Proposal to cities across North America, laying out its demands, including 500,000 square feet (46,451 square metres) of space by 2019 that could eventually extend to more than eight-million square feet.

Toronto-area leaders announced Wednesday that Toronto, Mississauga, Halton, York, Brampton and Durham Region would submit a single, regional bid for the operation.

Those municipalities are working with Toronto Global, a newly-formed organization, focused on bringing big business to GTA.

Toronto Global doesn't include Waterloo Region, and after some initial speculation that the region may have been left out, Waterloo Region confirmed they're on board as well. 

LaMantia said there had been "mayor to mayor" discussions with the City of Toronto, and the region had spoken with the province and Toronto Global. 

"It makes good business sense," said LaMantia. "It's smart to join the Toronto Global bid, it would be foolish in many ways not to do that, because I think we have to put our best foot forward and make sure that we are focused on winning." 

'Immense talent' in Waterloo Region

On Thursday, Toronto mayor John Tory told CBC-KW Waterloo Region would be a major asset to the partnership. 

"If the Toronto region wants to put the best bid forward that it can, the immense talent not only in the Waterloo university community, but also in the tech community in the broader region is something that, why wouldn't you say is a huge part of what makes us a global contender?" he said.

Tory told CBC News there's no guarantee Amazon will choose Toronto Global's bid, especially given the potential tax breaks rival cities and states may lavish on the company.

Including Waterloo Region could help improve the odds, Tory added.

Candidates must meet specific requirements to be considered. Key criteria include: a prime location, access to mass transit and proximity to an international airport.

Cities have until Oct. 19 to apply, and Amazon said it will make a final decision next year.

With files from John Rieti and the Canadian Press


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