Manitoba

Winnipeg left out in the cold as Amazon unveils top 20 contenders for new 'HQ2'

The city and province touted Winnipeg's cheap business market as the "best choice" for Amazon's second headquarters, but the e-commerce giant obviously doesn't agree.

Toronto only Canadian city to make final list of communities courting e-commerce giant

The city and province jointly pitched Amazon on the virtues of doing business on the cheap in Winnipeg. (Reuters)

The city and province touted Winnipeg's cheap business market as the "best choice" for Amazon's second headquarters, but the e-commerce giant obviously doesn't agree.

Toronto was the only Canadian city to make Amazon's list of top 20 contenders for its next base of North American operations. The Seattle-based company unveiled the list Thursday morning.

"The competition was fierce, but our bid positioned Winnipeg well for future opportunities," Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman said in a statement.

In September, Amazon invited cities across the continent to woo them into constructing a planned eight-million-square-foot, $5-billion "HQ2" space for its second base of operations.

The company says it plans to employ 50,000 people within 10 years of the plant opening. Employees there would earn an average of $100,000 per year, Amazon says.

The prospect of all that business was enough to persuade Economic Development Winnipeg president Dayna Spiring, Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman and Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister to put Winnipeg's name forward.

Spiring worked on the proposal and said at the time Winnipeg had "a shot."

The proposal, jointly authored by the province and city, emphasized how cheap it is to do business in Winnipeg. Economic Development Winnipeg released a video featuring Bowman and former Blue Bomber Obby Khan touting the beauty of The Forks, the local art scene and low-costing of living, among other gems.

On Thursday, Economic Development Winnipeg released another video after learning the city had not make the cut. In it, Khan picks up the phone and learns the bad news.

A spokesperson for the mayor's office said Bowman is proud of the joint effort to lure Amazon to the Prairies.

"The application process also provided an opportunity to collaborate with the province and key stakeholders to promote all that Winnipeg has to offer, and we are optimistic Amazon and other companies took note and will keep Winnipeg in mind for future opportunities," Bowman said in a statement.

Amazon was looking for a metropolitan community with at least one million residents; Winnipeg and its surrounding municipalities are home to just 811,000, according to Statistics Canada.

The province said it would consider $980 million in tax breaks and training support over 16 years for Amazon if Winnipeg were short-listed.

The City of Winnipeg said it would consider selling Amazon surplus land and provide financial support for related infrastructure.

Other Canadian cities that submitted proposals and didn't make the top 20 include Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Montreal, Ottawa, Sault Ste. Marie, Hamilton and Halifax.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bryce Hoye

Journalist

Bryce Hoye is a multi-platform Manitoba journalist covering news, science, justice, health, 2SLGBTQ issues and other community stories. He has a background in wildlife biology and occasionally works for CBC's Quirks & Quarks and Front Burner. He won a national Radio Television Digital News Association award for a 2017 feature on the history of the fur trade. He is also Prairie rep for outCBC.

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