Halifax joins list of Amazon suitors

Halifax has joined a list of suitors vying to be the second North America headquarters (“HQ2”) of Amazon.

It might be a tough goal for the Nova Scotia capital. Dozens of large cities across the US and Canada – including Chicago, Toronto, and Vancouver – are seeking to be picked. But Halifax Mayor Mike Savage believes that several key economic trends make the city stand out, apart from its lobsters and beer.

“Lobsters and fiddles and bagpipes are really cool but they’re not a value proposition,” Savage told Bloomberg.  “There’s no better place in the world to have a drink than Halifax at our many bars and restaurants, but it doesn’t pay the bills. So we’ve been trying to add to that over the last number of years.”

According to Savage, affordable housing has been a boon: The average price of a property in Halifax was $288,000 in August, about one-third of Toronto’s and a fraction of the equivalent $852,000 in Amazon’s Seattle headquarters, Bloomberg reported.

 Apartments and condos are going up to match the population influx, with housing starts rising 37%  in the first half of 2017.

The city has reversed an ageing demographic trend. Last year the 25-to-39-year-old age group rose by a record 3,800 people. The city has also stepped up on immigration – international students comprise about a fifth of university enrolments, while 1,000 Syrian refugees have been accepted so far.

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, said the company will rank HQ2 as a “full equal” to its Seattle headquarters. “Amazon HQ2 will bring billions of dollars in up-front and ongoing investments, and tens of thousands of high-paying jobs. We’re excited to find a second home.”

In choosing the location, the tech giant said it has a preference for:
  • metropolitan areas with more than one million people
  • a stable and business-friendly environment
  • urban or suburban locations with the potential to attract and retain strong technical talent
  • communities that think big and creatively when considering locations and real estate options
It expects to invest over US$5bn in construction and grow this second headquarters to include as many as 50,000 jobs.

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