Calgary finalizes pitch to lure Amazon to the city - 660 CITYNEWS
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Calgary finalizes pitch to lure Amazon to the city

Members of the Calgary HQ2 Executive Committee pose with an example of the package sent to Amazon in Seattle. October 19th, 2017. (Tom Ross - 660NEWS)

There’s been lots of buzz around Calgary looking to attract Amazon to the city in the hopes the company will open a new headquarters here. Now, Calgary Economic Development has launched its official bid.

In an event at the Global Business Centre Thursday afternoon, President and CEO Mary Moran helped announce the pitch to the internet giant.

She said Calgary is a great option because it would be better for Amazon’s business to operate here.

“Which would include difference in labour costs, plus health care premiums. Based on our calculation, when they are fully scaled up to 50,000 people could result in a $2.1 billion savings every single year.”

In the pitch, which includes a book, letters from Calgarians, and a video, Moran said they didn’t focus on the city’s main competitor, Denver, and instead tried to appeal to Amazon employees, who will help pick the new headquarters.

“We kind of take the Amazon approach,” Moran said. “We’re not really concerned about our competition, we care about the customer. So we did a comparison to Seattle, so all the elements that we put forward, we put forward in terms that they would understand.”

Calgary’s bid also includes a massive marketing campaign in Seattle, featuring chalk messages on sidewalks, and a 120 ft. banner in front of their Seattle office with the slogan “We’re not saying we would fight a bear for you…but we totally would.”

Adam Waterous, CEO of Waterous Energy Fund, is on the Executive Committee and said Amazon wants a city that is very attractive to a labour force skewed towards science and tech. That puts Calgary in the running with Denver, but suggested the city has a leg up since Amazon is looking at place with growth, talent, affordable housing and good transportation.

“They’ve looked in the rear view mirror and said ‘what are some cities that have big job growth who have lots of science and technology and professional workers’. They’ve also looked forward and said ‘where is a city that people are going to want to locate, where they’re going to have affordable housing, and where they’re not going to be stuck in traffic’, and we think they’re going to choose Calgary.”

If Amazon does open HQ2 in Calgary, it would result in about 5,000 jobs immediately and up to 50,000 in a decade.

“So the talent we’re able to offer is head office talent: HR people, IT people, procurement people, accountants, god help us lawyers,” Mayor Naheed Nenshi said. “And that is one of the great advantages we’ve got.”

The city has not been directly in touch with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has. Moran said Trudeau stressed how important and beneficial it would be for Calgary and Amazon to partner up.

Now it’s a waiting game to see if Calgary will make the short list, which would clear the way for help from the federal government.