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Published on Thursday, October 19, 2017

Burlington joins Hamilton, Niagara Amazon bid

Site said to be in Hamilton's lower town

Burlington joins Hamilton, Niagara Amazon bid
Amazon HQ1
Large spheres take shape in front of an existing Amazon building, behind, as new construction continues across the street in Seattle - Phone by Elaine Thompson,The Associated Press
By Matthew Van Dongen, Hamilton Spectator

Hamilton has teamed up with Burlington and Niagara to try to lure internet retail giant Amazon to town, likely the lower city.

Mayor Fred Eisenberger held a press conference Thursday just to announce the 200-plus page bid is "in the mail," likely joining hundreds of similar proposals from cities all over North America interested in hosting a $5-billion, $50,000 employee "HQ2."

Eisenberger declined to share most details of the bid - including proposed locations or any incentives on offer - noting the details form part of a competitive request for proposals.

But city manager Chris Murray pointed to Amazon's stated preference for an urban setting and nearby mass transit options.

"Mass transit in Hamilton is in the lower city, in the downtown," he noted.

Murray also confirmed Hamilton is partnering with the Region of Niagara and the City of Burlington on the bid, which is expected to cost less than the $500,000 upset budget approved by council. A final price tag is still being tallied.

Eisenberger said Burlington contributed "in the range" of $25,000, but city officials weren't clear Thursday whether Niagara would make a direct financial contribution. About half of a hoped-for $250,000 has come from the private sector and other outside agencies towards the bid, with more fundraising expected.

Murray wouldn't reveal what kind of incentives, if any, might be on offer from Hamilton.

But he noted Canadian cities, unlike some U.S. jurisdictions, are forbidden from "bonusing," or effectively paying companies to set up shop. That also rules out giving up land for free.

He echoed provincial Amazon file point person Ed Clark, who noted in a speech Wednesday that Ontario is selling its advantages like health care and education, not buying a new company.

"We can't write anybody a cheque to make them come here," Murray said.
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Author: Mayor Rob Burton

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