Since Amazon launched a public continental competition to select the site of its second headquarters, it’s prompted a lot of talk of what cities have to offer.
The mayors of virtually every city in North America with more than 1 million people – including Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi – made it clear they wanted the new HQ2 for their city and what Amazon said will eventually be “as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs.”
As the CEO for the economic development agency for a city with all the attributes Amazon has indicated it is looking for – top talent, available office space, exceptional quality of life – I am not concerned about our competitors.
From Day 1, we’ve been focused on the turnkey solutions that Calgary can uniquely offer Amazon.
As part of the effort to evolve our economy, Calgary Economic Development will do everything possible to show Amazon the advantages we can offer to help the company reach its long-term goals.
I disagree with the cynics who say Calgary – or any Canadian city – has no chance. We work with many companies facing growth constraints in many U.S. locations all the time and provide them cost-effective and employee-friendly solutions. Over the last 18 months an increasing number of U.S. companies have reached out to our office to support satellite offices here.
A review of Amazon’s request for proposals suggests Calgary is an ideal fit. Look at the checklist of priorities Amazon has identified.
The value proposition Calgary can offer Amazon is compelling but facts and figures about the low tax burden and cost of doing business or the high levels of education and labour productivity won’t be enough to make our case.
It’s going to take a village. To sell Amazon – a company that knows a thing or two about sales – on how much Calgary wants the opportunity to ensure this historic endeavor is a great success for the company we’re going to need the help of Calgarians.
Amazon is committed to empowering others to unleash their creativity and its CEO Jeff Bezos is famous for crowdsourcing ideas to assist philanthropic causes he supports. If it works for him, it can work for us. Calgarians know what makes their city terrific. We always say you are our best sales people. We want hear your most creative idea on how we can win Amazon. Think bold. Don’t be timid! in our #LoveYYC community.
Please use #AmazonYYC to share our story on social media.
Think bold – maybe McLeod Trail could become Bezos Way or we could rename the Bow the Amazon River.
Proposals are due Oct. 19th so we need ideas soon – like a delivery from Amazon fast!
Our talent is our biggest advantage. As a centre of head offices in Canada we have a well-educated workforce will all the technical and corporate skill sets that Amazon requires. Our quality of life attracts and retains people and provides tremendous stability for companies constantly facing human resources challenges. The city grew by more than 50,000 people during the recent recession – most coming from international locations – so even in times of change, Calgary is a place of opportunity.
And change for the better is something that drives both Amazon and Calgary.
This is a city where decisions are made quickly and Calgary Economic Development has put together an executive committee of senior leaders to support our team – Mayor Nenshi, Gregg Saretzky of WestJet Airlines, Adam Waterous of Waterous Energy Fund, Gianna Manes of Enmax and me – to oversee the bid for this mega opportunity. They oversee committees populated by local experts to develop the bid and marketing plan.
There’s also no downside here for us. We can’t control oil prices in Calgary but we can influence the growth of our innovation ecosystem and attracting companies like Amazon – and the other leads we have in our pipeline – will be game changers.
Oh, and we’re definitely in this to win it.