News / Calgary

Alberta government forms team of experts to aide with Amazon headquarters bid

The Amazon HQ2 team is lead by retired investment banker Bill Sembo, who was integral in the creation of Cenovus Energy and Nexen.

The team is made up of investment attraction experts including the presidents of both of Alberta's largest universities.

Metro File Photo

The team is made up of investment attraction experts including the presidents of both of Alberta's largest universities.

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.

According to the province, the Amazon HQ2 leadership team has extensive networks it will use to build a national and international profile for Alberta bids in an effort to show the world why Edmonton and Calgary are great places to do business.

The team will focus on showcasing Alberta’s high quality of life, low taxes, diverse and well-educated workforce, extensive public infrastructure and world-class health care, said the release.

The government said having the presidents of Alberta’s two largest universities on the Amazon HQ2 team will help position the province as an innovative and nimble workforce, capable of responding to the talent requirements of Amazon, or any company looking to build a headquarters.

Minister of Economic Development and Trade Deron Bilous said we’ve seen Cavendish, Google, RocketSpace and Champion make important expansions in Alberta this year.

“I've met with Amazon executives directly, and they've been clear that a Team Alberta approach is important to demonstrate our government is serious about helping them expand here too,” he said.

Heading the team is Bill Sembo, a retired investment banker who oversaw the creation of Cenovus Energy and Nexen.

After chairing the team’s first meeting on Monday, Sembo said Alberta can compete with many other jurisdictions when it comes to attracting leading businesses to the province.

“In Alberta, one discovers everybody is building, everything is new; nothing is beyond improvement and our horizons are limitless. Albertans get things done,” he said.

Other members of Alberta’s Amazon HQ2 team include:

- Mary Moran: Calgary Economic Development, president and CEO

- Glen Vanstone: Edmonton Economic Development Corporation, vice-president, Trade and Investment

- Elizabeth Cannon: University of Calgary, president & vice-chancellor

- David Turpin: University of Alberta, president & vice-chancellor

- Dwayne Dreger: Invest Alberta, executive director

- Laura J. Kilcrease: Alberta Innovates, CEO

- Deron Bilous: Minister of Economic Development and Trade

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