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Amazon in Edmonton


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Sep 22, 2015
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Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Possibility of hosting Amazon North American headquarters has Alberta mayors excited
Amazon announced Thursday that it is hunting for a site for a new headquarters in North America, in addition to its sprawling Seattle hub.

Amazon says that it will spend more than $5 billion US 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 jumped on board, leading the charge to convince Amazon that it should call the city its second home.

Could Edmonton be next?

Edmonton Economic Development said it’s aware of Amazon’s request for proposals (RFP) and will take a closer look.

“Canadian cities will certainly be scrambling, all of the big ones, to understand this opportunity,” Mayor Don Iveson said.

“In our case, we’ll rally everyone from the airport authority to the local and regional economic development entities to the downtown business association to make a case for why Amazon should come and take one of the half empty or empty buildings in our downtown that are on sale right now, right in the heart of the innovation corridor that runs from NAIT to the U of A and has some of the brightest machine-learning people.”

“Amazon’s all about machine learning and customization and automation and anticipation. So, if they want to be close to Google DeepMind, and Machine Intelligence Institute which is one of the best in the world then maybe Edmonton would be a good place for them to choose.

“We’re looking at it and I’ve been in touch with Edmonton Economic Development already and things are moving,” the mayor said.

Amazon's HQ2 opportunity a 'tasty morsel,' says Edmonton mayor
Edmonton could make a "great case" as the home of a second headquarters for e-commerce giant Amazon, Mayor Don Iveson said Thursday.

"The Amazon [request for proposals] is kind of a tasty morsel that I think mayors and economic development people all perked up and said, 'You know, that would be phenomenal to have that in our community,' " Iveson told reporters.

"Certainly we take the opportunity very seriously, and if there's an opportunity for us to put in a bid I wouldn't want us to let that opportunity go by."

The Seattle-based company said earlier Thursday it is looking for locations for something it is calling HQ2 — a second headquarters. The company said it will invest $5 billion US to develop the site and within a decade house as many as 50,000 workers in more than eight million square feet of space.

Edmonton wasn't alone in expressing immediate interest on Thursday.

Calgary, Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa and Halifax are also waving their flags.

"We are exploring it, we're looking at the RFP," Iveson said. "If they are shopping for a bargain basement and tax incentives that Alberta couldn't afford right now, for example, that might make it more difficult. But if they are really hunting for value, I think we could make a great case."

Edmonton boasts "great talent," affordable downtown real estate, strong technology and research communities and "multiple direct flights a day to Seattle," Iveson said.

Edmonton to bid on 'tasty morsel' $5-billon Amazon headquarters
It's a long shot, but who knows? If the Edmonton Regional intermodal Transit Hub had been in the works then that would have been a huge plus. For many reasons -- not the least of which is international image -- I imagine that wherever Amazon chooses to locate, they will be looking to design and build their own facilities, so I think Mayor Iveson is off the mark thinking that they will fill existing vacant buildings. Offshoot, support enterprises, however, would make the office space glut disappear. Who has enough land in a downtown location to build a $5Billion facility? And who could put a plan of action into place quickly? And who would love the notoriety and has the initials DK? Right adjacent to a major transit station and Edmonton's rapidly developing people-place.
@archited I imagine it wouldn't be a $5bn + 50,000 person hiring spree in one shot, but rather phased in over many years (probably a decade). They could easily start out in one of the vavant towers, and build out (or RFP a new tower) as part of a future phase of growth.

That said, it does seem to me too they would likely be more interested in a campus-style development. There are some options relatively close to the core (Muttart lands + surrounding industrial by Stadium LRT come to mind; maybe even Northlands with some negotiating), but Heritage Valley or Horse Hills might seem very attractive with planned LRT extensions.
@archited I imagine it wouldn't be a $5bn + 50,000 person hiring spree in one shot, but rather phased in over many years (probably a decade). They could easily start out in one of the vavant towers, and build out (or RFP a new tower) as part of a future phase of growth.
My experience, @Daveography, with the tech giants is that they don't think like that -- they never carry a "poor boy" image. They would wait 3 years or longer to make the headquarters happen in glorious PR fashion and then cut the tape on a large complex (office towers or, as you say, campus-style development). Most of the employees at the outset will be transfers from their existing headquarters (which they plan to maintain as a co-headquarters site) with new recruits coming on slowly over time (perhaps many hired in the interim but not situated in-house until the whole deal is done). I know that Jeff Bezos likes to get the biggest bang for his buck and in the anticipated proposals he is already asking for donated land, tax breaks and relocation packages.

This reminds me of the negotiations that Katz went through with Edmonton. It was a hard-fought win for Mayor Mandel at the time (he had to bring many councillors kicking and screaming into line). The crew that is in City Hall now is not going to have the luxury of debating with the Amazon Group as they did with Katz. If they want this deal, they better bend all the way over or it is going to go to some other city. Seattle has indicated that for every dollar that Amazon has invested there, they have reaped $1.40. Bezos has already indicated that Amazon would invest $5Billion and ultimately supply 50,000 employees.

Here is what I believe Edmonton has to do to even get close enough to sniff the deal:
1. Have a plan to extend LRT to the EIA in the short term (even before the present Valley Line construction is finished.
2. In concert with EIA develop a transit hub at either the Coliseum site or the Commonwealth Station site with LRT express runs (one stop at Churchill) between the new Hub and EIA -- EIA should manage both sites.
3. Work -- as you have said -- with Katz and Qualico to see who will bend the farthest to get them on their land. Katz has the advantage of the entire ICE district project, but Qualico could compete using the Irving Kipnes atrium idea and the proximity to City Hall, RAM, AGA, Winspear and the Citadel and Library.
4. Get NAIT, MacEwan University, Athabasca University, and U. of A. on board (especially the latter) to pump up the tech credits of north/central Alberta
5. Establish a warehouse connection for Amazon at the Racetrack site -- Northlands is dead -- it just hasn't been buried yet (another advantage in having a Transportation Hub at the Coliseum).
6. Develop a spokesperson/liaison to deal with Amazon -- I would check to see if the former Mayor Mandel is up to the task.
7. Offer a 15-year tax holiday for the company as incentive (taxes earned from housing 50,000 employees and their families would/should be enough for the City at the outset).
8. name a star-power architectural team and have the City pay the design/engineering fees -- Santiago Calatravas would be my selection. Can you imagine how many ancillary or tech-related companies would move to Edmonton to be in proximity to Amazon and a world-class architectural masterpiece.
9. put together the presentation of a lifetime showing all of the pluses in Edmonton's quiver as well as north/central Alberta, the Rockies and Jasper, the fishing and hunting in the hinterland.
10. Not just IoT tech but agriculture and forestry tech -- build it all up.
11. relocation package for employees that includes 1st-class travel, all moving expenses, and hotel charges for between move-out/move-in dates. The City would make the money back in spades -- no reason to cheap-out here. Be innovative -- hire a yacht to go from Seattle to Vancouver and then -- working with CN -- a train ride through the Rockies to Edmonton -- 1st-class treatment all of the way. Put the employees up in the new Marriott Hotel (it will be finished by then); give them complimentary tickets to Edmonton events -- hockey games, concerts, whatever.
12. Work to establish a joint training regimen for prospective tech employees at the Edmonton-based institutions with Amazon.

This at a minimum...
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50,000 employees means a boost in population for Edmonton of likely a similar amount (spouses, kids etc.for those who come from out of town). The notice and notoriety that Edmonton would get would attract many other workers and techies. It will be interesting to see whether Edmonton goes feeble or strong.
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And more that Edmonton could do to cement a deal with Amazon:
13. EIA is on the shortest air polar routes to more countries than any of the competition cities. Not only that, but EIA has extreme expansion possibilities (could easily double its size).
14. Edmonton could donate some of the land at Northlands for a distribution warehouse complex (most of the land there is otherwise going to rot on the vine with a defunct Northlands) and joint-venture with Amazon to develop a mixed use urban village there -- condominium residences and parks above a massive distribution centre -- connected by the upgraded Yellowhead Trail to an overland trucking network. So Edmonton could offer headquarters downtown (either ICE District or Galleria/Qualico) with product distribution just 2 stops away by LRT at Northlands property and an express connection to EIA. The LRT connection could be modified to take shipping containers to and fro on an express commercial line. This creates even greater rationale for a Transit Hub incorporating the Coliseum building and adjacent land. And a rail shuttle could connect to the CN rail yards in North Edmonton for rail distribution across Canada; and, at a transit hub, Greyhound could promote bus distribution throughout Western Canada
15. As per my previous vision, Alberta Avenue west of the Coliseum could become a proper cultural/exhibition enclave with seasonal fairs promoting First Nations, Ethnic Diversity, and City Celebrations. Converting Alberta Avenue between the Coliseum and NAIT into a pedestrian way with one-way west traffic on an improved 119th Avenue and one-way east traffic on 117th Avenue. The appeal to Jeff Bezos would be partnering in a very grand development that showcases the City and Amazon jointly.
16. Tout Edmonton as a headquarters City with PCL and Stantec as shining examples -- both have world-class reputations.
18. Start talks with Darryl Katz about the possibility of vying for an NBA franchise for the ICE District. Edmonton already has a reputation as a sports city -- burnish that image.

The more I think about it -- Edmonton could win this competition if it gets in gear on several fronts. But first, it has to trash its CONSERVATIVE shell and think more progressively and outside the box.
19. Because Edmonton is at the centre of a rich agricultural hinterland and because Amazon recently purchased Whole Foods, there is a huge potential for Amazon to expand that food network outlet in Edmonton and all across Alberta with a regional headquarters in Edmonton (for Whole Foods).
20. As far as winter cities go, Edmonton receives far less snowfall than eastern cities and while winter temperatures are cold they emanate from a dry cold that is far less piercing than eastern high-humidity climates. Edmonton winters are far more conducive to outdoor activities. In fact winters in Edmonton promote skiing, skating, tobogganing, sledding, etc. on an unparalleled basis.
21. Edmonton with its River Valley park system, enjoys far more outdoor space per capita than any city in North America. Every year brings new access to improved park space in the river valley.

And here is an idea that might turn the tables and peak Jeff Bezos interest in Edmonton -- work with the Provincial and Federal Governments to develop with Blue Origin (Bezos' Space company) a secure launch and return site at either Cold Lake or Lesser Slave Lake. Cold Lake would have the security (joint) provided by Canada's largest armed services base and, therefore, better overall infrastructure. Lesser Slave Lake has a larger water surface area for soft landings. Build a high speed rail connection to either location (another minor interest of Bezos). Edmonton, with its oil refining capability, could provide the solid hydrogen fuel propellant that Blue Origin favors. Certainly there are aggravating factors, but that just provides challenges that need to be overcome.
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Edmonton economist warns against Amazon 'race to the bottom' bidding war
It might be a “tasty morsel” — in Mayor Don Iveson’s words — but Edmonton should steer clear of the bidding war sure to break out around Amazon’s proposed $5-billion second headquarters, says the city economist.

The American online giant issued a request for proposals Thursday, setting off a media frenzy as cities across the continent took notice.

Edmonton would love to land those 50,000 jobs, said Iveson. Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said the same thing. Alberta Economic Development Minister Deron Bilous said the province is already working to lure Amazon here.

Economist John Rose sounded frustrated Friday: “Oh gosh. I spent a lot of my career consulting to regions and municipal governments about economic development issues and it always upsets me when a firm goes out and gets cities into a bidding war.”

“There’s going to be someone out there who is going to lowball us, no matter what. Particularly when it’s a high-profile company splashing about big numbers,” Rose said.

“It’s just a race to the bottom.”

So far, Alberta’s big-city mayors have been careful to stress they’re not interested in major tax concessions and highlighted the strengths of both cities’ economies. Edmonton has global experts in machine-learning technology at the University of Alberta and top-notch graduates. It also has multiple direct flights a day to Seattle, Amazon’s headquarters.

But before anyone gets their hopes up, they need to know these companies often try to extract billions in tax concessions from a hosting municipality, Rose said. “It’s a bit of a mug’s game.”
Same Economist mind-set that pooh-poohed the Commonwealth Games. Here is a copy of the Amazon Press Release:

Amazon Opens Search for Amazon HQ2 – A Second Headquarters City in North America
New headquarters will be a full equal to Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle, and is expected to grow to 50,000 employees as part of the company’s ongoing job creation

Amazon plans to invest over $5 billion in construction and operation of Amazon HQ2

In addition to Amazon’s direct hiring and investment, construction and operation of Amazon HQ2 is expected to create tens of thousands of jobs in construction and related industries, and generate tens of billions of dollars in additional investment in the city where Amazon HQ2 is located

SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sep. 7, 2017-- (NASDAQ: AMZN)—Amazon today announced plans to open Amazon HQ2, a second company headquarters in North America. Amazon expects to invest over $5 billion in construction and grow this second headquarters to include as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs. In addition to Amazon’s direct hiring and investment, construction and ongoing operation of Amazon HQ2 is expected to create tens of thousands of additional jobs and tens of billions of dollars in additional investment in the surrounding community. Amazon is opening the Amazon HQ2 Request for Proposal (“RFP”) now, and local and state government leaders interested in learning more about how they can bring Amazon to their community can visit

Amazon estimates its investments in Seattle from 2010 through 2016 resulted in an additional $38 billion to the city’s economy – every dollar invested by Amazon in Seattle generated an additional 1.4 dollars for the city’s economy overall.

Details of Amazon’s Seattle headquarters:

Amazon Seattle HQ
Direct1 Number of buildings 33
Square feet 8.1 million
Local retail within Amazon headquarters 24 restaurants/cafes + 8 other services
Amazon employees
Capital investment (buildings & infrastructure) $3.7 billion
Operational expenditures (utilities & maintenance) $1.4 billion
Compensation to employees $25.7 billion
Number of annual hotel nights by visiting Amazonians and guests 233,000 (2016)
Amount paid into the city’s public transportation system as employees’ transportation benefit $43 million
Indirect2 Additional jobs created in the city as a result of Amazon’s direct investments 53,000
Additional investments in the local economy as a result of Amazon’s direct investments $38 billion
Increase in personal income by non-Amazon employees as a result of Amazon’s direct investments $17 billion
Other Increase in Fortune 500 companies with engineering/R&D centers in Seattle From 7 in 2010 to 31 in 2017

1From 2010 (when Amazon moved its headquarters to downtown Seattle) to June 2017.
2From 2010-2016. Calculated using Input-Output methodology and multipliers developed by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

With more than 380,000 employees worldwide, Amazon ranks #1 on Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies, #2 on Fortune’s World’s Most Admired Companies, #1 on The Harris Poll’s Corporate Reputation survey, and #2 on LinkedIn’s U.S. most desirable companies list. Amazon was also recently included in the Military Times’ Best for Vets list of companies committed to providing opportunities for military veterans.

“We expect HQ2 to be a full equal to our Seattle headquarters,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO. “Amazon HQ2 will bring billions of dollars in up-front and ongoing investments, and tens of thousands of high-paying jobs. We’re excited to find a second home.”

In choosing the location for HQ2, Amazon has a preference for:

Metropolitan areas with more than one million people
A stable and business-friendly environment
Urban or suburban locations with the potential to attract and retain strong technical talent
Communities that think big and creatively when considering locations and real estate options
HQ2 could be, but does not have to be:

An urban or downtown campus
A similar layout to Amazon’s Seattle campus
A development-prepped site. We want to encourage states and communities to think creatively for viable real estate options, while not negatively affecting our preferred timeline.
Amazon HQ2 will be a complete headquarters for Amazon – not a satellite office. Amazon expects to hire new teams and executives in HQ2, and will also let existing senior leaders across the company decide whether to locate their teams in HQ1, HQ2 or both. The company expects that employees who are currently working in HQ1 can choose to continue working there, or they could have an opportunity to move if they would prefer to be located in HQ2.

To learn more about Amazon’s current Seattle headquarters, plans for Amazon HQ2, and to submit a proposal, visit

About Amazon

Amazon is guided by four principles: customer obsession rather than competitor focus, passion for invention, commitment to operational excellence, and long-term thinking. Customer reviews, 1-Click shopping, personalized recommendations, Prime, Fulfillment by Amazon, AWS, Kindle Direct Publishing, Kindle, Fire tablets, Fire TV, Amazon Echo, and Alexa are some of the products and services pioneered by Amazon. For more information, visit and follow @AmazonNews.

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements that are inherently difficult to predict. Actual results could differ materially for a variety of reasons, including, in addition to the factors discussed above, the amount that invests in new business opportunities and the timing of those investments, the mix of products and services sold to customers, the mix of net sales derived from products as compared with services, the extent to which we owe income taxes, competition, management of growth, potential fluctuations in operating results, international growth and expansion, the outcomes of legal proceedings and claims, fulfillment, sortation, delivery, and data center optimization, risks of inventory management, seasonality, the degree to which the Company enters into, maintains, and develops commercial agreements, acquisitions and strategic transactions, payments risks, and risks of fulfillment throughput and productivity. Other risks and uncertainties include, among others, risks related to new products, services, and technologies, system interruptions, government regulation and taxation, and fraud. In addition, the current global economic climate amplifies many of these risks. More information about factors that potentially could affect’s financial results is included in’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), including its most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and subsequent filings.
Here is a copy of the Amazon RFP
Amazon HQ2 RFP
Amazon invites you to submit a response to this Request for Proposal (“RFP”) in conjunction with and on behalf of your metropolitan statistical area (MSA), state/province, county, city and the relevant localities therein. Amazon is performing a competitive site selection process and is considering metro regions in North America for its second corporate headquarters. We encourage states, provinces and metro areas to coordinate with relevant jurisdictions to submit one (1) RFP for your MSA. The RFP may contain multiple real estate sites in more than one jurisdiction, but we do encourage you to submit your best sites to meet or exceed the needs of our Project described in this RFP. Any questions regarding the information or items requested in this document can be submitted using the email below. We encourage you to go through the process as outlined in the RFP and ask questions of the team using the email provided below.
Please provide an electronic copy and five (5) hard copies of your responses by October 19, 2017 to Please send hard copies marked “confidential” between the dates of October 16th – 19th to:
Office of Economic Development c/o Site Manager Golden
2121 7th Ave
Seattle, WA 98121
For electronic submittals, please send a password-protected website URL or a USB only. If using a password-protected website, the submitting agency should also submit written responses to the RFP questions (Information Requested section).
September 7, 2017 October 19, 2017 2018
RFP Phase I Available
RFP Phase I Response Deadline
Final Site Selection and Announcement
Alberta government forms team of experts to aide with Amazon headquarters bid
The provincial government says they’re working with the experts to make Alberta an attractive candidate in the race to be Amazon’s international headquarters.

According to a news release from the Alberta government, the Amazon HQ2 leadership team, made up of investment attraction experts, will champion the province by helping the province’s cities bidding on Amazon’s HQ2—including by identifying opportunities for the government to support the bids.

Premier Rachel Notley said there’s a reason Alberta is home to the highest concentration of international headquarters in Canada.

“We have the youngest, best-educated and most productive workforce in the country. We also have the most competitive costs to do business – including our universal health-care access,” she said.

Notley said the government has brought this team together to focus on creating maximum benefit for Albertans.

“We know that showcasing our cities to the world means new economic opportunities here at home,” she said.

Province builds team to help Alberta cities bidding on Amazon headquarters
The provincial government has put together a team to help Alberta cities vying to become home to Amazon’s second North American headquarters.

“There’s a reason Alberta is home to the highest concentration of international headquarters in Canada,” Premier Rachel Notley said in a news release on Monday.

“We have the youngest, best-educated and most productive workforce in the country. We also have the most competitive costs to do business, including our universal health-care access.

“We’ve brought this team together to focus on creating maximum benefit for Albertans because we know that showcasing our cities to the world means new economic opportunities here at home.”

Alberta creates advisory team to assist cities bidding for second Amazon HQ
To win Amazon, a city needs art, says Alberta economist
When he isn't at work as the chief economist of ATB Financial, Todd Hirsch likes to travel the world.

One day, he found himself wandering through the gift shop of the Danish Architecture Centre, in Copenhagen, when he found himself standing face to face with a gigantic, coffee table photography book with the Calgary Peace Bridge on it, staring back at him.

It turned out to be a book called Link It: Masterpieces of Bridge Design, featuring 100 of the world's finest designs.

"I thought, 'am I hallucinating?'" Hirsch said, in an interview with Daybreak Alberta, where he spoke about how a strong arts and culture community isn't a nice-to-have option for a city hoping to attract the multi-billion dollar Amazon HQ2 project to it.

It's an absolute necessity.
Varcoe: How much will Alberta give to get Amazon's new headquarters?

Investment banker Bill Sembo is leading an Alberta team working to attract Amazon to the province. COLLEEN DE NEVE /CALGARY HERALD
Will Alberta open up its wallet wide in a bid to become the home to Amazon’s second corporate headquarters?

That’s the multimillion-dollar question Premier Rachel Notley and her government will have to grapple with in the next few weeks.

The NDP government announced Monday it has adopted a “Team Alberta” approach and assembled a lineup of eight academics, business and government leaders — led by retired investment banker Bill Sembo — to help Calgary and Edmonton prepare pitches for the mammoth HQ2 project.

The group will look at what the provincial government can do — including providing incentives to the company — to put its best foot forward in the Great Amazon Hunt.

“We talk about the importance of economic diversification and this would be a generational change,” Notley said Monday in Calgary when asked what it would mean if one of the cities was selected.

“It’s a historic opportunity and so we have to pull these people together as quickly as we can to get the best advice.”


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