It's been nearly seven months since Amazon announced the shortlist of candidates for its second North American headquarters (HQ2) and, according to reports, that list could get even shorter "as soon as this month."
Toronto is the only Canadian city on the shortlist. Aside from the popular cache of becoming the new second home for the e-commerce giant in North America, Amazon is expected to spend more than $5 billion building HQ2 and create at least 50,000 jobs.
A recent article published by The New York Times said there was "widespread speculation" that Amazon could narrow the list down further and is asking candidates for their best-and final-offers. Amazon declined The Times' request for comment.
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The article goes on to say that the bidding process has been kept tightly under wraps, with some officials from shortlisted cities claiming they're unaware of what tax credits or other financial incentives have been promised to Amazon.
“I think the lack of transparency of this whole process is galling," Richard Florida, a professor at the School of Cities and the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, told The Times. "This has to be all out in the public. This is taxpayer money.” Florida sat on the board of directors for Toronto Global, the not-for-profit organization that coordinated Toronto's bid. But, according to the article, he resigned this year so he could "raise concerns about the general lack of transparency in the bidding."
In its proposal, Toronto said it "leads North America on almost every important quality of life metric, including safety, crime, healthcare, education, housing, culture, and entertainment." It also highlighted some of the tax credits Amazon would be eligible for. For instance, Amazon can claim 25% of salaries and wages paid to a student on a work placement. And, according to the bid, corporate income tax rates are 12.4% lower than the U.S. average.
When Amazon announced last September that it was looking for a site for its second North America headquarters, it received 238 proposals from cities across the United States, Mexico and Canada, including Toronto, Montreal, Edmonton, Halifax and Calgary.
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And, while it continues to search for a home for its second headquarters, Amazon is preparing to open two fulfillment centres in Ontario: one in Caledon, just north west of Toronto, and one in Ottawa. Together, the centres will bring more than 1,400 jobs to the province.