Amazon has officially announced the list of finalists for its second headquarters, and Toronto is the only Canadian city still in the running.
It's been city vs. city since Amazon started taking bids for its second HQ and the race is now tighter than ever. The construction and operation of the Amazon HQ2 will require a hefty investment of at least $5 billion, but it will crease roughly 50,000 high-paying jobs.
The HQ2 will boost the economy of the area where it's located. That is why cities are racing to make the winning bid, trying to lure Amazon with potential tax breaks and other perks. The company received bids from 238 cities and regions in North America and it has now gotten closer to making a decision, choosing just 20 finalists.
Amazon HQ2 Finalists Spark Mixed Reactions
Amazon's shortlist has sparked mixed reactions. The company says that it assessed each bid based on specific criteria: the city would need to have a major airport nearby, would have to be able to attract top tech talent, and it would have to be in an urban or suburban area with more than one million residents.
The list of finalists has raised some eyebrows because some cities that are still in the running, such as Nashville or Columbus, don't have major airport hubs, CNN points out. This was one of the main requirements Amazon announced, yet somehow the shortlist doesn't seem to focus on it that much.
"HQ2 will be the second Amazon headquarters in North America. We are looking for a location with strong local and regional talent-particularly in software development and related fields-as well as a stable and business-friendly environment to continue hiring and innovating on behalf of our customers," says Amazon.
Toronto Among Amazon HQ2 Finalists
Of the 20 North American cities that made Amazon's HQ2 list of potential matches, Toronto is the only one in Canada still in the running. This boosts hopes of winning the bid and experts say that the University of Toronto think that it has a solid chance.
Professor Richard Florida, who runs the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management, thinks that Toronto is in fact in the top five, with a strong chance of being the winner for Amazon's HQ2. Florida highlights that Toronto is a top choice due to its top universities, Canada's open immigration policy, and diverse local culture.
The professor notes that the biggest rivals in this race are likely Washington, D.C. and New York City but Chicago, Boston, and Los Angeles also pose serious competition.
Does Toronto Stand A Chance In Amazon HQ2 Race?
Shauna Brail, associate professor, presidential adviser on urban management, and director of the urban studies program at the University of Toronto, adds that Toronto has definitely earned its place on Amazon's list of 20 finalists for HQ2.
"It's really a testament to the work that Toronto, as a city and region, has done to promote itself as an open, innovative, accessible and significant city with respect to attracting and retaining international and locally grown firms - and ones that really blend in with our diverse economy and diverse population," says Brail.
Why Toronto Could Fall Short
On the other hand, Toronto might also fail to win the race because choosing a Canadian city could put Amazon in a risky position politically, considering U.S. President Donald Trump's firm America-first power play. However, Brail highlights that politics could go either way.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos could either choose to avoid drawing the wrath of President Trump and the White House, or take a stand against the various recent policies that sparked a great deal of controversy such as the immigration policies.
For now, the fact that Toronto is still in the running proves that it's a solid contender, but it remains to be seen whether it will make it to the end.