Calgary a front-runner for Amazon headquarters bid, says analyst

Sep 22 2017, 3:36 am

Amazon is on the search for its second official headquarters, and Calgary is top of the list as a potential candidate – at least as far as Canada goes.

The tech giant – famous for its e-commerce service and, most recently, its purchase of Whole Foods – is planning on investing over $5 billion on construction of its HQ2, which would create up to 50,000 jobs.

Amazon’s HQ2 will be equal to the company’s original Seattle headquarters in size, and if it provides anywhere near the economic boost in its new location as it does in Seattle, then the chosen city will be sitting pretty.

A definite plus for Calgary, as the city has only recently clawed its way out of a three-year recession.

Instead of simply choosing a city to build in, Amazon is allowing cities to submit themselves as potential candidates – but there are certain specifications laid out that will increase the chances of housing HQ2.

The Upshot did the research and narrowed down a list of US cities that might be suitable for HQ2 based on size, ease of commute, labour pool, quality of life, and other variables, finding that Denver, Colorado would be the ideal spot for Amazon’s new home.

… But they only looked at American cities, so Mountainmath, a Vancouver-based data analysis, management, and visualization company, took on the figures for Canada.

They found that after eliminating Canadian cities through each round of variables, they were left with Calgary and Toronto as the front runners up north, and Vancouver trailing in third.

Between the two, Calgary has the upper hand in its shorter average commute, space for the huge headquarters, and a willingness to “pay to play,” meaning the city’s ability to accommodate the growth in office and living spaces that would come with such a large investment.

So that leaves Calgary and Denver as the top contenders for Amazon’s favour.

Wherever HQ2 lands, it will likely spell dollar signs for the city. Between 2010 and 2016, the headquarters in Seattle “resulted in an additional $38 billion to the city’s economy – every dollar invested by Amazon in Seattle generated an additional $1.40 for the city’s economy overall,” according to Amazon’s website.

That’s definitely something Calgary would be glad to have.

Applications close on October 19, and a decision is expected to be made in 2018.

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