County of Simcoe + Amazon = North of Ordinary

The County of Simcoe is open for business and received support from the Government of Ontario towards the County’s efforts to secure the development of Amazon’s newest North American facility within Simcoe County borders.

Amazon, which currently has Canadian locations in Toronto and Vancouver and employs more than 380,000 people around the globe, recently sent out a request for proposals to identify a location and partner municipality for its newest North American facility. The proposal states that Amazon HQ2, the moniker that Amazon has given, would generate up to 50,000 local jobs for the successful location.

“The County of Simcoe is open for business and offers an experience truly north of ordinary. Our communities provide affordable lifestyles with an abundance of infrastructure, transportation, amenities, services and an educated, hardworking and growing workforce. We have one united goal to foster an environment that provides the absolute best opportunity for Amazon and all our businesses to thrive,” said Gerry Marshall, County of Simcoe Warden.

“Our region is home tremendous growth, opportunities and unmatched lifestyle – we offer world-class cultural experiences, entertainment and festivals. We’re one of Ontario’s top tourism destinations with roughly 9 million visitors per year,” said Marshall at the announcement.

He was abruptly interrupted by a special delivery from Amazon’s head office to which he reacted, “wow, this is a shipment from Amazon folks and from its’ headquarters in Seattle…can you imagine if the return address said Simcoe County?”

Amazon is the first company in the world that is nearing a trillion dollar valuation and seeking its second headquarters, referred to as HQ2, for which Simcoe County has made their bid. “we’re going after it…we have shipped off our official submission to invite Amazon to build a new facility right here in the County of Simcoe,” said Marshall.

Their submission is supported by the federal and provincial government, “this not only means that we are considered one of the top economic development players on the Amazon pitch, we are now on the province’s radar to move forward as a region filled with economic opportunity,” said Marshall.

They will be competing with proposed locations across North America, but Marshall is confident that the county has what Amazon is looking for in terms of building their second headquarters. “We have planned development, we have a growing workforce, our population is expected to double from 465,000 to 800,000 people by 2041,” said Marshall.

He also pointed out their close access to three airports with international border services; Oro Medonte, Pearson International and Billy Bishop International. The county also boasts an expanding Go Train service, municipal transit services and investment into infrastructure from the province that includes a link between the 400 and 404.

As part of the County’s economic development strategy to attract, grow and support our economy and labour force, the County has identified potential locations and worked with the towns of Bradford West Gwillimbury and Innisfil, as well as development partners, to submit a strong proposal to Amazon to make Simcoe County the home of Amazon HQ2 and ultimately generate high-paying, quality jobs in our communities.

Leading with the tagline “North of Ordinary”, the proposal highlights our region’s many value propositions and strengths, including our lifestyle opportunities, high quality of life, growing communities, affordability, attraction of newcomers, proximity to GTA, access to major highways, transit and international airports, strong talent pool, focus on research and development, access to health care, and an opportunity for Amazon itself to help shape the surrounding community by working with the County and host municipality as potential development occurs.

The County anticipates that it will hear back from Amazon in 2018.

To bolster provincial competitiveness and increase our labour force, the Government of Ontario recently announced that it plans to increase the number of post-secondary students graduating in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines, including artificial intelligence, by 25 per cent over the next five years. This initiative will boost the number of STEM graduates from 40,000 to 50,000 per year and position Ontario as the number one producer of postsecondary STEM graduates per capita in North America. Locally, Georgian College and Lakehead University are recognized as leaders in many of these disciplines – with Georgian College in the process of developing a new state-of-the-art Advanced Technology, Innovation and Research Centre.

Simcoe County has impressive qualifications, including:

  • a 40 per cent population growth rate forecasted
  • home to 16,000 businesses
  • a growing available workforce of approximately 230,000 people
  • creation of 14,000 new jobs in last 5 years
  • a wide variety of development options ranging from major industrial greenfield opportunities to waterfront and downtown mixed-use and commercial development
  • a competitive advantage with close proximity to GTA – 9 million people within a one- hour drive and that number grows to 130-million within a one day drive
  • access to international markets through the Lake Simcoe Regional Airport in Oro- Medonte, Billy Bishop and Pearson International Airports
  • being known for its high quality of life, welcoming more than 9-million visitors each year to experience area amenities and attractions

(Image L to R from Simcoe County: Mark Aitken, Chief Administrative Officer; Gerry Marshall, Warden; and Rachel Sullivan, Manager of Economic Development give a thumbs up to Amazon.

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