Amid a steady drumbeat of attacks from President Trump that probably don’t make Amazon feel particularly loyal to the leader of the United States, new statistics have emerged that paint Toronto as an attractive candidate for the company’s second headquarters.
A new report from real estate services company CBRE ranks Toronto as No. 4 for tech talent out of 50 cities in the U.S. and Canada. The only city in the running for HQ2 that outranks Toronto is Washington, D.C., which is seen as a frontrunner in the race for Amazon’s $5 billion second headquarters. San Francisco is ranked first and Seattle, Amazon’s hometown, is second.
Over 240,000 workers comprise Toronto’s tech talent pool, a 51 percent increase since 2012, according to the report. The Canadian city is No. 1 when it comes to “brain gain” according to CBRE. In other words, tech workers educated in Toronto tend to stay there after graduating.
Toronto is also one of the cities where technology employers get the most bang for their buck. The average salary for a software engineer in Toronto is less than $100,000, compared with much higher salaries in Washington, D.C., Seattle, and San Francisco.
Talent is one of Amazon’s most important criteria in deciding which city will become its second home. But there is another phenomenon that could also increase Toronto’s chances. For months, Trump has been hurling attacks at Amazon on Twitter, accusing the company of exploiting the U.S. Postal Service, underpaying taxes, and using The Washington Post (which Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos owns independently from the company) as a propaganda engine.
In his latest tweets this week, Trump suggested that Amazon should come under antitrust scrutiny.
….In my opinion the Washington Post is nothing more than an expensive (the paper loses a fortune) lobbyist for Amazon. Is it used as protection against antitrust claims which many feel should be brought?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 23, 2018
These direct hits coupled with immigration policies Amazon has criticized and uncertainty surrounding international trade could make the Canadian city more appealing to the e-commerce giant. Toronto is the only city still in the running for Amazon HQ2 that is not in the United States.
But though many have tried, it’s impossible to predict what Amazon will do. The company is known for bold bets and surprise moves. It’s also highly competitive, especially when it comes to recruiting talent. Last year, Google announced it will move its Canadian headquarters to Toronto as part of an extraordinary plan by its sister company, Sidewalk Labs, to build an innovation district on the city’s waterfront. Amazon may be hesitant to share Toronto with another tech giant
Amazon has finished visiting each of the 20 cities in the running for HQ2. The company says it will make its announcement sometime this year.