Alberta creates advisory team to help cities bid for Amazon headquarters

Edmonton and Calgary enter the race to become the online giant's second home

The Alberta government is joining the fray to help Edmonton and Calgary bid for retail giant Amazon's second headquarters.

Premier Rachel Notley says a consultation team of business and academic leaders will assist the cities to make the best bids possible.

"Our object is to get that headquarters into this province," Notley said Monday. "We brought this group together to give us the best advice possible for how we as a provincial government can support the bids effectively.

"Also to ensure that we co-ordinate effectively with the federal government to make sure that they are at the table as quickly as possible and in a way that ensures Alberta's interests are properly represented."

Amazon announced earlier this month it is opening a second North American office, spending $5 billion and hiring as many as 50,000 employees.

The company said it wanted to be near a metropolitan area with more than a million people, have access to top technical talent, be near an international airport, have direct access to mass transit, and have space to expand over the next decade.

Alberta's low tax regime, young workforce and network of post-secondary institutions should put it among the top 10% of bidders, Notley said.

Amazon's current Seattle home has more than 40,000 employees, 33 buildings and 24 restaurants. Amazon is taking bids until Oct. 19 and will make a decision next year.

Cities from across North America are scrambling to bid.

READ: Windsor enters talks to join Detroit's bid for new Amazon headquarters

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister already reached out to political and business leaders, saying he wanted a "Team Manitoba" effort to lure Amazon to Winnipeg.

Ed Clark, who is heading up Ontario's Amazon bid, has said while the province would consider sensible incentives, it would not offer billions in subsidies to the e-commerce giant. Clark said that wouldn't be fair to other firms.

Notley wouldn't say if Alberta's bid would include financial incentives or loan guarantees. She would only say the package had to make overall sense for Alberta and for its economy.

"We need to make sure that there is value added to Albertans, that there is low risk to Albertans, that jobs are created, and that the government's investment can be collared and that we're not at risk of going too far."

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