PM Justin Trudeau is meeting Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on Thursday in San Francisco.
The meeting is part of Trudeau’s visit to the U.S., which is intended to “strengthen the bonds between Canada and the United States,” a spokesperson from the Prime Minister’s Office said in an email and to shore up support for NAFTA.
Along with meeting government officials, he also has meetings with tech moguls in Silicon Valley.
“He will also meet with various business leaders and entrepreneurs in the technology sector to explore opportunities for growth in high-quality jobs and investment in Canada,” spokesperson Chantal Gagnon told Global News.
The meeting with Bezos will take place at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, and comes as Toronto is still in the running to be the home of Amazon’s second headquarters.
Trudeau outlined commercial, cultural and social reasons why Amazon should call Canada home to the new “HQ2” complex including universal health care that lowers the cost to employers, stable banking systems, and a deep pool of highly educated prospective workers from both at home and abroad.
On this trip, Trudeau will meet with other officials including Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner; Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel; Salesforce chairman and chief executive Marc Benioff; Daniel Saks, the co-founder of AppDirect, eBay chief executive Devin Wenig, Amgen chief executive Robert Bradway and California Governor Jerry Brown.
Julia Sakas, Toronto Global marketing and communications director, confirmed that bid backers have agreed to keep this part of the process secret.
“As with all standard (request for information) processes, this next round required signing a non-disclosure agreement with Amazon,” she wrote in an email.
“Amazon is conducting this next phase as a commercial exercise, with a focus on expanding on the information provided in our original bid document — we will be restating the data and information gathered in our bid book, providing clarification and compilation of comparable data for the Toronto region.”
The State of Maryland is setting aside $5 billion U.S. to woo Amazon to Washington suburb Montgomery County. Maryland’s transportation chief said Tuesday his state has promised Amazon a “blank cheque” for transportation improvements required to locate HQ2 near Washington.
Meanwhile University of Toronto cities expert Richard Florida is rallying fellow academics and others to urge political leaders to join a “non-aggression pact” promising not to offer huge incentives to land Amazon.
“Amazon does not need — and should not be going after — taxpayer dollars that could be better used on schools, parks, transit, housing or other much needed public goods,” he wrote in a column for CNN.com.
“The company would add far more value to its brand by eschewing incentives and instead working with the winner to address challenges like affordable housing and traffic congestion, which its new headquarters is likely to exacerbate.”
“Amazon has something like 9,000 engineering jobs they can’t fill. [Canada’s] immigration policy is much more liberal,” Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson t old the New York Times in September . “That’s where we have an advantage.”
Canada is not as affected by political turmoil, and there’s less uncertainty about changes coming to immigration laws than there is in the US. In an interview with the CBC from September , a former Amazon exec described Canada as “more welcoming” when it comes to immigration.
Toronto and Canada are hoping that Amazon weighs that advantage heavily, as the bid it submitted to Amazon did not emphasize tax and other financial incentives.
Toronto is one of only 20 North American cities to make the shortlist, after 238 put forth proposals last year.
The online retail giant, based in Seattle, said it would work with each candidate city over the next few months to dive deeper into the feasibility of each host area. Amazon plans to make a final decision sometime this year.
It promises to add 50,000 jobs and invest $5 billion in the city.
Image Source: REUTERS/Trish Badger