Why Toronto Making The Cut For Amazon HQ2 Isn’t A Good Thing

Last week, Amazon announced the 20 cities that made the cut in terms of where the company will build its second headquarters, otherwise known as HQ2. Toronto and the larger Greater Toronto Area made the cut. A lot of people are happy about that as Toronto was the only non-US city to make the cut.

I on the other hand think this is a really bad development. Why? There’s two big reasons:

  1. Amazon is looking for talent and will scoop up all the talent that exists here to power its own business. This will be at the expense of startups here in Toronto who will likely be in no position to compete due to the deep pockets that Amazon has. That means the next BlackBerry will never see the light of day because the talent needed to take it to the next level will work for Amazon and the results of that knowledge and hard work will generate lots of revenue for an American company. We should be saying no to having such a large company come in and scoop up that talent. Instead we should be doing everything possible to encourage that talent to drive revenue for Canadian companies. That way Canadians can be the innovators of the future.
  2. Toronto is not a US city. Which means that if Amazon were to pick Toronto, it would be subject to a angry Tweetstorm from a certain President Donald J. Trump who is well known for his “America First” mantra. So one wonders if Jeff Bezos and company are truly willing to take that fight on. Maybe they are? Who knows? But the flipside to that is that the Trump administration already has Canada in its crosshairs over NAFTA. Thus we should likely be circling the wagons rather than inviting trouble on yet another front.

For those reasons, I am not a supporter of HQ2. Let an American city score it. That way the politicians here in the Greater Toronto area can get back to doing things that will benefit the people who live here. Such as building better transit, improving infrastructure, and driving the innovation economy by helping to build great Canadian companies that the world, which is everyone outside the United States, will want to do business with. If that happens, it will be irrelevant what Amazon does. And it will be another made in Canada success story to go with ones like the 56k modem, the CanadarmSonarinsulin, and the Cardiac pacemaker just to name some great Canadian inventions.

The question is, will those politicians see that or are they too focused on the short term gain of Amazon setting up shop in Toronto to see the big picture?

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