Why Toronto Made ‘the Playoffs’ for Amazon’s Headquarters

Why Toronto Made ‘the Playoffs’ for Amazon’s Headquarters

2018-01-19 00:35:38

In sharp contrast to President Trump’s efforts to limit the entry of people from some predominately Muslim countries into the United States, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has repeatedly emphasized that Canada is open to people of all religions and backgrounds.

“We’re able to attract the best and the brightest from around the world,” Mr. Tory said.

Toronto’s second asset, he said, is its publicly funded university and college system. The University of Waterloo has long been recognized as one of North America’s top technology schools, and the University of Toronto is a major center for research in artificial intelligence. As part of the area’s Amazon pitch, the province of Ontario has increased funding for artificial intelligence programs at its universities by 30 million Canadian dollars, or about $24 million.

“We have a talent pool, and we have the educational policies to make sure the pipeline is full,” Mr. Tory said.

But the Toronto area also has a potentially unattractive feature: ever-escalating prices both for homes and for commercial real estate. Its bid proposes several potential sites for Amazon’s second headquarters, among them the largely abandoned docklands that include the Google-related redevelopment plan.

Frank Scarpitti, the mayor of Markham, Ontario, which is already home to operations of IBM and the chip maker AMD, dismissed the idea that land and housing prices could be a deal breaker. He noted that several other finalists, including New York, had similar or higher costs.

Soon after the announcement, Kathleen Wynne, the premier of Ontario, appointed Ed Clark, the former president and chief executive of the Toronto-Dominion Bank, to coordinate the province’s reply.

Mr. Tory said the cities would probably have to wait for Amazon’s next move before taking any action of their own.

“We don’t know what they’re expecting from us,” he said. “There has been no playbook or playoff schedule supplied to the 20 finalists.”

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