Ottawa’s Amazon Bid Could Lead to Great Things for Our City

A huge business decision is currently being made, one that could have enormous economic benefits for Ottawa if it goes our way. Amazon, the company that we all know and order from, are looking to build a second North American headquarters. Cities from all over are lobbying to be the location of the new facility, including some particularly bold and strange attempts to get Amazon’s attention. The city of Tucson sent a 21-foot tall saguaro cactus to Amazon’s current headquarters, and other cities have created videos that claim to show Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant declaring them as the best place to establish the new headquarters. Ottawa has also thrown its hat into the ring in an attempt to gain the benefits development of a new Amazon facility would promise. Kanata North would be an excellent choice for the new Amazon HQ if Ottawa wins the bid, since it is already Ottawa’s tech hub and has abundant room for expansion. Expansion will be necessary too, since Amazon’s HQ arrival would lead to the construction of thousands of new homes in the surrounding areas and inject new life and money into Ottawa’s housing market. People who work at the new complex will want to live near it, and this will create a new central point for homes and businesses to appear around. Some people have even referred to the area around Amazon’s new HQ as becoming a “second city-type area.”

The economic benefits that Amazon offers are impressive, with a promise of adding 50,000 new jobs to the chosen city over the next 10-15 years at the massive complex. Amazon’s plans call for a headquarters campus that covers at least 175 acres, and will cost $5 billion US to build. There are other space requirements as well, which Ottawa meets, including the campus being within 30 miles of a population center and 45 miles of a major airport, with easy highway access. As well as the direct economic benefits of the new jobs Amazon will bring, there will be indirect benefits. It is estimated that Amazon’s current headquarters has indirectly brought $38 billion US dollars into Seattle’s economy, as well as paying funding into that city’s transportation infrastructure.

Ottawa certainly has benefits if it were to be chosen to host the new headquarters. Besides meeting the requirements for position and land, Ottawa has great quality of life for Amazon’s prospective employees. As a Canadian city, Ottawa also offers more flexible visa programs if Amazon wants to bring workers in from other locations. As far as potential employees goes, Ottawa also has the advantage of a thriving tech center and many universities and colleges that can feed Amazon’s need for technically trained employees. James Thomson, former head of Amazon Services, described it as Ottawa offering a “clear path to tech employees.” Other benefits of a Canadian headquarters are the Canadian dollar, which is lower than the US dollar and so could offer Amazon more value for the money it spends, and providing more direct access to Canadian markets.

Ottawa’s mayor, Jim Watson, has wholeheartedly thrown his support towards the project, including making a trip to Seattle to see Amazon’s current headquarters and get an idea of how a similar space could be built in Ottawa. His actions were not popular with everyone, with some critics accusing him of grandstanding in order to get popular attention, but others within city hall are excited about the possibility. Regardless of different opinions, if Ottawa wants to win the bid for Amazon’s new headquarters there is a lot of work to do. Still, with the advantages our fair city has to offer, such as a ready-made location in Kanata North that meets all of Amazon’s requirements, a victory is certainly possible. If Ottawa wins the bid, it will bring a huge amount of brand new capital into the city, and will mean thousands of new homes and a surge of new businesses springing up all around the new HQ. Kanata will grow exponentially, and the money will flow into the city proper as well.