Kent Rupert

Amazon HQ2 Project

As I am sure you have heard by now, Amazon announced that it is conducting a competition for locating its second headquarters, HQ2, in North America. There has been a lot of excitement throughout North America over this bid and some questions have come up whether Airdrie should have submitted a proposal for this exciting opportunity.

While Airdrie has never been afraid to be bold and progressive and go after business, and while we believe that the City of Airdrie meets a number of Amazon’s criteria, we took a number of things into consideration with respect to the company’s competitive bid request.

Amazon is looking for a metro area with more than one million people, quality transit options, and incentives from local governments. Those could come in the form of tax credits and exemptions, relocation and workforce grants, utility incentives and fee reductions. In return the gigantic company has promised to bring in 50,000 new jobs and an investment of 50 million dollars. That is enough to get any community excited, but let’s consider a few things….

Firstly, we recognize that Amazon is a world-class organization that will be leaning toward a metropolitan centre that is seen as world class as well. To this end, we knew that both Calgary and Edmonton will each be making applications to Amazon for this opportunity and that each would be seeking support from the province in this regard. While Airdrie still continues to grow, we currently don’t have the infrastructure, fiber connections or facilities to do a standalone bid in order to welcome the 50,000 employees that Amazon is projecting to bring with this project.

However, in the spirit of regional collaboration, Airdrie reached out to Calgary Economic Development and let them know that the City of Airdrie would support the Calgary bid however we can. We believe that there will be significant “spin-off” benefits from having Amazon locate within the Calgary region, for which Airdrie could be a prime beneficiary. We felt that our willingness to collaborate together regionally in this application would be well-received by our neighbours to the south, the province and, ultimately, Amazon.

CONGRATULATIONS to Calgary for their amazing bid package that they presented to Amazon in mid-October. With guerrilla-style marketing that included stenciled chalk messages on sidewalks across Seattle sidewalks and a 30-metre banner across the street from Amazon’s Seattle head office with the saying “Hey Amazon, not saying we would fight a bear for you… but we totally would!” was a fun way to reach out to the employees of the company that may be relocated to Calgary if they were successful.

We won’t know the outcome of the Amazon bid till next year, but we can be proud of how our neighbours to the south represented the Calgary region, and the fun and entrepreneurial spirit we can offer the world to set up their companies here.

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