The bidding process is over in the Amazon HQ2 sweepstakes, with a reported 238 cities across North America having thrown their hats into the ring.
So, who’s the favourite? The money’s on Atlanta, experts say, but what do you know, Toronto fourth in line, with seven-to-one odds to take home the crown and its purported 50,000 high-paying tech jobs.
Yes, Amazon won’t be doing the big reveal until sometime in 2018 (although many surmise that company heads have already made their real choice, turning this whole circus into a big promo boost for the online retailer), but we can all speculate, can’t we? Including the bookies, who, like Ireland’s Paddy Power is willing to let folks throw down their cash on any type of wager (those of us outside of North America, that is).
Atlanta’s odds by the bookmaker are a nifty two to one, followed by Austin, Texas, at three to one, Boston at six to one and then Toronto’s seven to one. The high ranking for Toronto may come as a surprise to some, as being outside of the US has been viewed as a big negative.
“I suspect there will be a stigma of putting its headquarters in another country,” says James Thomson, ex-head of Amazon Services and author of The Amazon Marketplace Dilemma (and a Canadian), to the Toronto Star. “Amazon will have to convince a lot of existing executives to relocate, and another country with higher personal tax rates is a bigger question mark than another American city.”
Atlanta’s top ranking stems from its being similar in size to Seattle, having an international airport, good mass transit and a strong tech climate (with Georgia Tech in the neighbourhood). Plus, Georgia’s got more sunshine than Seattle.
But Toronto has a leg up on at least some of the other main competitors, since being a big metropolis is thought to put it ahead of smaller burgs like Austin. Plus, it’s just awesome, says Mayor John Tory, whose staff reportedly outlined Toronto’s virtues in an almost 200-page submission to Amazon.
“Toronto is the best spot because it has the deepest talent pool, it’s got a diversity that’s second to none, its got fabulous educational institutions and it has got a quality of life that is better that the quality of life in basically any other city in North America,” Tory gushed.
Other Canadian cities on Paddy Power’s list include Vancouver at 66 to one, Ottawa at 80 to one and Halifax coming in at 100 to one.
Calgary’s chances are at 66 to one, but they’re already raising their glasses in thanks to Amazon, having just secured an agreement with the company to create a regional distribution hub just north of the city in Balzac, Alberta. Reportedly, the packing and shipping plant will employ 750 full-time positions.
Toronto’s HQ2 odds are much better than those given by ESPN to the NBA’s Toronto Raptors, who have 80 to one odds of taking home the NBA championship this year, while the tech bid even outpaces the odds for the Toronto Maple Leafs who are eight to one favourites to win the Stanley Cup come next spring.