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My prediction for Amazon HQ2

“Now the trick is that we gotta look like we don’t need this shit and they give us the shit for free.“ –Mike Peters

This is a line from one of my favorite movies, Swingers. Short video clip here. Mikey and Trent are in a Las Vegas casino trying to play it cool. They’re looking to make a scene at a table and Mikey throws out this gem of a line. He knows that people want what they can’t have and that confidence matters.

I was reminded of this line today after Amazon announced its HQ2 Request for Proposal (full RFP document here) and every city, from Chicago and Toronto to Philadelphia and Dallas, started swooning over the prospect of housing Amazon’s second headquarters in North America. 

But to be clear, I do not think this is a bad idea. I actually think Amazon HQ2 is an incredible city building opportunity that would generate countless positive externalities for the selected city. I’m thrilled that Mayor John Tory will be personally “leading the charge” with respect to Toronto’s response.

Over $5 billion in construction and as many as 50,000 employees making on average over $100,000 per year. Amazon is looking for about 500,000 sf of space in phase 1 (2019) and up to 8,000,000 sf in total. Based on the RFP, they seem to be pegging their capital investment at somewhere around $600 per square foot.

If I’m being as objective as possible, I honestly believe that Toronto is the city to beat in his competition. I think it will come down to access to talent. Human capital is the lifeblood of a company and Trump’s immigration policies simply put U.S. cities at a disadvantage in this regard.

Of course, Toronto is also awesome. So that’s my prediction: Amazon HQ2, Toronto.

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