News / Ottawa

Ottawa assembles task force to woo Amazon

With just over a month until the deadline, Mayor Jim Watson announced part of city's plan to pitch for e-commerce giant's second headquarters.

In this Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2017, photo, packages riding on a belt are scanned to be loaded onto delivery trucks at the Amazon Fulfillment center in Robbinsville Township, N.J.

Julio Cortez/AP

In this Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2017, photo, packages riding on a belt are scanned to be loaded onto delivery trucks at the Amazon Fulfillment center in Robbinsville Township, N.J.

The city is taking an aggressive stance in the battle to land the so-called Amazon HQ2 complex, with Mayor Jim Watson striking a task force to put together a pitch before the Oct. 19 deadline.

The task force will comprise stakeholders from the province, federal government, the city’s universities, and industry experts (among others) to help chart a path that would see the online retail giant bring its second headquarters — and as many as 50,000 jobs — to the Ottawa region.

“As an innovation and tech-intensive city, counting a bilingual and culturally diverse high-tech and communications workforce of more than 77,000 leading professionals, Ottawa is well-positioned to host this Amazon campus, and we will work hard over the next few months to put our best foot forward in this process,” said Mayor Watson, in a statement on Friday afternoon. “Working with our economic development partners, we will showcase all that our city has to offer.”

Watson’s confidence notwithstanding, Ottawa has some serious competition north of the border: Toronto, Halifax, Vancouver and Calgary have all announced their desire to bring the complex to their backyards.

The hope is that Ottawa’s strong tech industry — led by Shopify — will be a major selling point for Amazon. As well, with a newly opening LRT line and abundance of space, the city presents growth potential.

The excitement, at very least, is palpable, with Blair Patacairk of Invest Ottawa saying it is “the first time I have seen something at that level.”  

Amazon’s primary headquarters, in Seattle, is estimated to have brought roughly $38 billion to the local economy.

The specifics of the task force, including its membership, are yet to be determined. But the timeline is tight: Ottawa has just over a month to put together a pitch.

- With files from Ryan Tumilty

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