Mayor departing for Amazon visit as Ottawa prepares bid

Mayor Jim Watson is headed to Washington state this week to drum up support for building Amazon's new headquarters in Ottawa.

Retail giant's second HQ could employ as many as 50K workers

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson is heading to Seattle to tour Amazon headquarters in a bid to have the shipping giant open a second office in Canada's capital. (Richard Drew/The Associated Press)

Mayor Jim Watson is headed to Washington state this week to drum up support for building Amazon's new headquarters in Ottawa. 

The Seattle-based retail giant said last week it's scouting locations for what it calls HQ2, with plans to invest $5 billion US to develop the new site, which will house as many as 50,000 workers. 

Watson said he thinks Ottawa has a shot at winning the company over, but concedes the capital faces some stiff competition. 

I understand that this is going to be an uphill battle.- Mayor Jim Watson

"I'm a realist. I understand that this is going to be an uphill battle. There are dozens if not hundreds of communities that are going to want to put a bid in," Watson told CBC News. 

"I think we have a lot going for us. We're a much more affordable city, that's important. Quality of life is very high here. MoneySense Magazine has listed us two years in a row as the best city to live in. Our transit system, our talent pool, the most number of PhDs, engineers, and scientists per capita in all of Canada, in Ottawa."

One-day tour of retail giant

On his one-day Amazon tour Thursday, Watson said he wants to get a sense of the magnitude of the campus and how it fits into the community, including the local transit system.

Watson (above) will be accompanied by Michael Wooff, consul and senior trade commissioner at the Consulate General of Canada, on his trip to Washington state. (CBC)

He's not going alone. He'll be joined by Michael Wooff, the consul and senior trade commissioner at the Consulate General of Canada.

Back at home, representatives of the province, the federal government, the City of Gatineau, Ottawa's post-secondary institutions and other industry and community leaders will soon form a task force with the hope of securing the coveted bid. 

"It would be a missed opportunity if we didn't at least try," Watson said. 

"If we're not successful with this, but we come across impressing Amazon, there may be other opportunities for other parts of Amazon to be located in Ottawa."

Ottawa joins Toronto, Vancouver, Halifax and Calgary in formally announcing its desire to host Amazon HQ2. The deadline for bids is Oct. 19.

Watson's trip to the southwestern U.S. will begin Monday in Los Angeles with local tourism officials, the city's film commissioner and members of Invest Ottawa, the city's economic development agency, to sell the capital as a filming destination. 

With files from Laura Osman