Lyft made its first move abroad this week, expanded its car-hailing service to Toronto. Mayors from the metro area joined Cheddar to talk about why the city is so business-friendly and to make their case for why Amazon should choose it for its HQ2.
The city was one of more than 230 to submit a bid for the tech giant's next headquarters. Toronto's John Tory and Bonnie Crombie, mayor of sister city Mississauga, tout the region's potential talent pool and relaxed immigration policies.
Canada as a country has been very open to welcoming immigrant entrepreneurs within its borders, granting permanent residence to those who attain a “Start-up Visa.” The government website states that the program connects founders with companies that can offer guidance and support in building their businesses. Candidates, though, do need to be backed by angel investors or Canadian venture capitalist groups.
But there are plenty of potential benefits for those who apply. Tory and Crombie both emphasize Canada's strong economic growth, low taxes, and quality of life.
“We know we need that talent and the companies they want to invest in. The Toronto region needs that talent,” Tory said. He adds that the new Visa program allows companies to bring software engineers from overseas to Canada in just two weeks. “It’s working quite well.”
Another incentive? Home rental prices are low in comparison to the United States. But the Canadian market faces some housing supply challenges amid the influx of immigrants.
Crombie said that to combat this issue the city of Mississauga works to “attract more investments and incentivize the development of middle-class housing stock.”
Amazon plans to start construction on a new headquarters somewhere in North America next year. The company says it will invest $5 billion in the project, which will create 50,000 new jobs. And cities are pulling out the stops to be selected.
Many are offering tax incentives, but others are going a step further. The mayor of Stonecrest, Georgia said his city would carve out a section of the town and name it Amazon, a move he says would add perpetual value to the brand. And Arizona's economic development group, Sun Corridor, even sent Amazon a 21-foot cactus as a gift if it got the nod.