'We are now and tomorrow': Toronto makes its pitch for Amazon's HQ2

In an effort to rise above the dozens of cities trying to lure Amazon, Toronto says its talented workforce, competitive business environment and diversity make it the perfect home for the tech giant's next global headquarters.

The Seattle-based company says its next headquarters will create 50K high-paying jobs

Around 100 cities have expressed interest in Amazon's next headquarters. (Reuters)

With its massive talent pool, favourable business environment and diversity, Toronto is the best choice for Amazon's next world headquarters, according to the region's public bid to the company.

The nearly-200 page bid was released on Thursday's submission deadline by Toronto Global, an organization aimed at attracting international investment to the region — and one that's funded by all three levels of government.

In its submission, Toronto Global makes its case for what Amazon has dubbed "HQ2," along with the 50,000 high-paying jobs and $5 billion US investment the company is promising to the winning city.

At a news conference announcing the details of the bid, the organization's chairman Mark Cohon said Toronto's pitch to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is rock-solid.

"We grow talent, very simply, we attract talent and we retain talent," Cohon said. "We do that all in a very competitive and favourable business environment."

Mayor John Tory also argued that no competing city can match Toronto's established strengths.

"There is no other place in North America that can boast the same talent, the same quality of life, the same vibrancy and economic strength," he wrote in a statement.

Toronto Global CEO Toby Lennox said Toronto's bid can't be ignored, if Amazon seriously considers a non-U.S. location (CBC)

Toronto offers stability

The bid argues that Toronto's highly-educated workforce — which bests any North American or Western European city, according to the document — fulfills the single most important requirement of any city hoping to land HQ2.

That talent pool has become even more valuable given the political climate south of the border, organizers argue.

"We know that Amazon's issue and question over the next little while is their ability to grow their talent base, which is why they can't do that in the United States, they're having a hard time doing it, which makes us very much the logical choice," said Toronto Global CEO Toby Lennox.

In addition, the bid stresses the importance of what it calls Toronto's "uniquely tolerant society," including a high of percentage of foreign-born residents and the number of languages spoken in the region.

The pages of the bid also include a photo of a smiling, waving Justin Trudeau above the caption "Welcome to Canada," and another photo of people welcoming Syrian refugees at an airport.

In the cover letter, Toronto Global sums up the region's inclusivity while appearing to reference U.S. President Donald Trump.

"We build doors, not walls," it reads.

Toronto Global's calculations say Amazon would also save millions by foregoing an American city. According to the submission, a software developer in Toronto earns 40 per cent less than a comparable worker in New York, savings that could amount to $1.5 billion annually, according to the province.

The bid estimates that Canada's universal healthcare system could save Amazon another $600 million US per year.

Amazon is seeking a second headquarters to expand from its home campus in Seattle, seen here. (Elaine Thompson/Associated Press)

'A stunningly unusual process'

Toronto is expected to compete with numerous other Canadian cities in the bidding process —  including Vancouver, Montreal, Halifax, Ottawa, Edmonton and Calgary — in addition to dozens of cities in the United States.

To bolster its chances, the bid has expanded the familiar Greater Toronto Region to what it calls the "Toronto Region," which stretches from Kitchener-Waterloo to Durham Region.

Lennox said it took "an unprecedented level of cooperation" between the municipalities to join forces on the bid, which ultimately allowed Toronto Global to market itself as home to 7.8 million people.

The bid boasts about the strengths of 7.8 million person "Toronto Region" (Toronto Global)

No subsidies, tax exemptions

Toronto Global said it will not use taxes or other subsidies to lure the Seattle-based tech giant to the region, an idea that's been discussed in some competing cities.

"Others may provide large subsidies and tax breaks, but like the Province of Ontario, we in the Toronto Region don't want to play that game and frankly we feel we don't need to play that game," Lennox said.

Amazon has said it will make a decision on its second headquarters in 2019.


Nick Boisvert is a multimedia journalist at the CBC's Parliamentary Bureau in Ottawa. He previously covered municipal politics for CBC News in Toronto. You can reach him at