In case you missed it, Amazon on Thursday revealed the final 20 cities still in the running for its massive second headquarters and the 50,000 jobs and $5 billion in investment that goes with it.
Of the final 20, several are major U.S. hubs you’d expect a company like Amazon to consider: Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami and New York. And then, of course, there is the Washington, D.C.-area, near to where founder Jeff Bezos has one of his other notable businesses, The Washington Post.
One outlier, however, is Toronto, Canada, the only non-U.S. city still hoping to be the recipient of the “final rose” in Amazon’s billion-dollar version of The Bachelor.
Which raises the question: Will Amazon actually go to Canada? Don’t count it out.
Toronto has several enticing qualities that have likely kept Amazon’s interest.
As the fourth-largest city in North America, with 7.8 million people in its surrounding area, there is obviously a large community ready for Amazon and its 50,000 workers.
According to Mercer, a company the tracks and ranks quality of life in major cities around the world, Toronto also finished well ahead of the other U.S. cities still alive on Amazon’s list.
The ranking, which looks at everything from crime rate and medical services available to the economic environment and education systems in place, put Drake’s hometown at 16, nineteen spots higher than Boston (35) and twenty-eight spots higher than New York (44) in the company’s 2017 rankings.
In addition to the strong quality of life, Toronto is also a short flight from several of the other major central and northeast cities still on the list. And while the city is not offering Amazon much in terms of tax breaks, it is offering a 100-acre area not far from downtown Toronto.
The biggest selling point, however, could be the ability to attract talent from overseas.
Given the ongoing immigration debate in the United States and the possibility of ever-higher hurdles for potential foreign workers, Toronto’s bid could end up being more competitive than originally thought.
In its global search for the best talent, Amazon can’t afford to miss out simply because it can’t bring people here.
“It doesn’t’ surprise me that a Canadian city remains, because of the more relaxed immigration policy in Canada,” said Josh Olson, a senior tech analyst with Edward Jones.
The province of Ontario, where Toronto is located, touted its ability to attract talent in its bid.
“Ontario’s greatest strength is our people and that’s exactly what we communicated directly to Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos,” said Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Minister of Economic Development and Growth Steven Del Duca in a joint statement after news broke of Toronto making the shortlist.
“Diverse, educated and innovative – they are exactly the kind of talented, motivated people companies like Amazon need to stay ahead of the competition,” they said.
As for what President Donald Trump will think if Amazon does indeed choose to go across the border? Well, his already notable dislike of Jeff Bezos and Amazon likely will only grow.
“I’m sure there will be some blowback,” says Edward Jones’ Olson. Trump has not only targeted Amazon over its taxes but has also made keeping jobs in the U.S. a major administration priority. “He will likely be pretty vocal about his dislike of such a move.”