Loading articles...

Former TD bank CEO to help Ontario with bid for Amazon headquarters

Last Updated Sep 10, 2017 at 8:42 am EDT

Packages from amazon.ca. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Bayne Stanley

Canada’s political leaders are joining the competition to become the home of Amazon’s new corporate headquarters, with premiers and mayors announcing task forces and teams to woo the online corporate retail giant.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said a former banking executive will help guide her province’s bid, while Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said he wants a “Team Manitoba” effort to lure Amazon to Winnipeg.

“With our central location in North America, our transportation infrastructure, our well-educated workforce, our plentiful green energy and the lowest cost of doing business in the continent, Winnipeg is the best choice,” Pallister said in a news release Saturday.

Amazon announced earlier this week that it planned to establish a second North American office, and many cities have already expressed their interest in the project.

Wynne joined their ranks on Saturday, announcing she had named former TD Bank chief executive Ed Clark as the head of a group tasked with landing the project.

Clark, who retired from TD in 2014, now serves as the Wynne’s business adviser.

Wynne said he will head a group of business leaders who will work to secure Amazon’s interest in locating its headquarters in Ontario.

Amazon said that it will spend more than US$5 billion to build another headquarters in North America to house as many as 50,000 employees. The technology company plans to stay in its current Seattle headquarters and the new space will be “a full equal” of its current home, said Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos.

Toronto Mayor John Tory has already expressed keen interest in bidding to make Toronto Amazon’s next home.

Pallister noted in the news release that he’s reached out to Mayor Brian Bowman, the city’s business community and all other stakeholders to make it happen.

Bowman, in the news release, touted Winnipeg’s “advanced technology and manufacturing expertise” and “history as a multi-modal hub.”

“By partnering with the province and key stakeholders in the economic community, we will present a unified proposal for this significant opportunity,” Bowman said.

Cities have until Oct. 19 to apply through a special website, and Amazon said it will make a final decision next year.

Candidates must meet specific requirements to be considered. Key criteria include: a prime location, access to mass transit and proximity to an international airport. Any potential site must have room to grow, as Amazon wants to expand its new headquarters to as much as eight million square feet in the next decade. That’s about the same size as its current home in Seattle.

Other Canadian cities, such as Waterloo, Ont., or Vancouver, may also fit the bill.

Amazon said its search is open to any metropolitan area in North America that meets the parameters. The city itself doesn’t necessarily have to be one million people, but declined to say how open it was to going outside of the United States.

Amazon’s current campus in Seattle takes up 8.1 million square feet, has 33 buildings and 24 restaurants and is home to more than 40,000 employees. At the second headquarters, Amazon said it will hire up to 50,000 new full-time employees over the next 15 years who would have an average pay of more than $100,000 US a year.