The City of Surrey is partnering with Vancouver on a joint bid to entice Amazon to base its second headquarters here.
The province this morning announced it is committing $50,000 to help Metro Vancouver partners including Surrey and Vancouver prepare submissions to Amazon’s request for proposals.
Amazon already has a headquarters in Seattle, but is looking to expand to a second location in another North American city. The online megaretailer is expected to invest more than $5 billion in the construction of their second site – equal in size to its current Seattle headquarters – and create up to 50,000 jobs.
Word that Surrey would be vying to host the new headquarters was announced in today’s government news release.
Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner told Black Press she would be thrilled to have Amazon in Surrey, but added she is not making assumptions around whether it will actually happen.
“I’m also a realist and and look at it through the lens of opportunity, but clouded in the fact that this is a North American bid,” she said. “We have to be sharp, we have to incentivize and have to clearly define what our attributes are.
“In a regional bid, that will have a whole lot to do with transportation and affordability and education that we can provide the workers. There’s a lot at stake.”
The Vancouver Economic Commission will be co-ordinating the $50,000 bid process, on the province’s dime, with the two cities.
The request for proposal is due Oct. 19 and will go up against other North American cities like Toronto, Boston and Detroit.
“B.C. offers unlimited possibilities for tech companies like Amazon. We have a fast-growing tech sector and several U.S. companies, such as Microsoft, Electronic Arts and Sony Imageworks, have already established a presence here because of the talent base that B.C. offers,” Premier John Horgan said in the statement.
Langford – a Vancouver Island community with plenty of land, according to its mayor, Stew Young – has also thrown its hat in the ring.
“The timing in Langford is perfect,” Young said earlier this month. “We have all the right boxes ticked off.”
But the province isn’t backing that bid quite yet.
Instead, the government said in a statement it “encourages the submission of comprehensive bids that establish why B.C. has a competitive edge over other North American jurisdictions,” and support for those bids will be considered.
Meanwhile, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson announced his city’s bid earlier in September, calling Vancouver a “world-class innovation ecosystem.”
The province, Vancouver and Surrey have formed a steering committee, while the proposal will be compiled by the firm Deloitte.
Hepner said Surrey’s City Centre has the capacity to absorb all 18 million square feet required, “if we had to, with all the private players we’re talking with.”
She acknowledged the city is “in very heavy competition around North America,” noting that Alberta Premier Rachel Notley was recently speaking out about her province’s bid.
Hepner cited a robust tech sector that attracts and develops new talent through “world-class post-secondary institutions” as among factors in Surrey’s favour.
“So we know we’re in good company but I think we have a lot to offer for Amazon to consider.”