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Car lights illuminate the Calgary skyline at dusk

Car lights illuminate the Calgary skyline at dusk.

When we launched a community portal to allow Calgarians to help with our bid to be the location for Amazon’s second headquarters (HQ2) we knew they’d come up with terrific ideas to sell our city.

From elevator pitches - the winner chronicled one epic day of snowboarding, skateboarding and surfing - to a news headline contest, the more than 1,250 members of the online community came up with dozens of creative ways to show Amazon Calgary is an ideal fit with a tremendous value proposition. 

One marketing class at Mount Royal University took up the challenge and asked student teams to envision Calgary in a decade after selected as the location. The diverse submissions included #AmazonYYC - AmazonIndigenous and HQ2 Kingdom. 

One particular entry in our headline contest embodied that creativity with From Eh! to Zed: Amazon chooses Calgary livability for Canadian HQ2The cheeky headline was great. It just didn’t tell enough of the entire Calgary story so we decided to, alphabetically speaking, spell out exactly what Calgary has to offer Amazon. From A to Z, here are the fundamental elements of our sales pitch: .

A: Affordable. From low cost of doing business to low cost of living to the low Canadian dollar, Calgary is affordable for Amazon and its employees.

B: Bike paths. With almost 1,100 kilometres, Calgary has one of the most extensive urban bike path systems and on-street bike lanes in North America.

C: Canada. Our country embraces immigration and trade - both are critical to a multinational corporation with global ambitions like Amazon.

D: Downtown real estate. With almost 13 million square feet of quality office space available, Calgary offers turnkey AAA real estate solutions.

E: Executive support. Dozens of local business leaders wrote letters of support to say what the city has meant to the success of their company.

F: Flames fans. Almost 18,000 chanted “Come On Amazon” in unison during an NHL game and provide an example of the community support for HQ2.

G: Global financial centre. Exceptional corporate and investment banking for a city of 1.5 million people and growing a fintech sector.

H: Head offices.Calgary is home to 124 of the S&P TSX 500 and all the legal, finance and administrative required support by those companies.

I: Infrastructure. Huge investments in infrastructure and a downtown innovation ecosystem that fosters collaboration, collisions and competition.

J: Just one hour. Flying time from Calgary to Seattle will help create an axis of efficiency for Amazon that spans two countries.

L: Livability. At $401,000 US, the price for the average single detached home, will mean all of Amazon’s employees can live well in Calgary.

N: No. Provincial sales tax, employer health care premiums or land transfer fees all contribute to a low tax jurisdiction.

O: Online access. Calgary has dark fibre networks to ensure seamless connectivity from HQ1 to HQ2.

P: Post-secondary institutions. Seven in Calgary produce exceptional graduates that have worked in globally competitive industries.

Q: Quality of life.The Economist Intelligence Unit has named Calgary a Top 5 city to live in globally every year since 2009.

R: Rocky mountains. Not everybody has heard of Calgary – that’s their bad – but Banff National Park is a dream vacation for people worldwide.

S: Sunny. Calgary has 333 days of sunshine each year, most of any major city in North America.

T: Talent. Calgary has strength in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills with the most engineers and geophysicists per capita in Canada and a a track record of attracting top professionals globally.

U: Unmanned aerial vehicles. The transportation and logistics sector in Calgary and southern Alberta is an emerging centre for drone technology.

V: Value proposition. Top-quality talent, affordable real estate, low cost of business, and extraordinary quality of life.

X: X-factor. Calgarians are our secret weapon (like the 12th man for the Seattle Seahawks) and they will do everything to make Amazon’s employees welcome.

Y: YYC Calgary International Airport.Connected to 100 cities and the centre of the leading inland port in Western Canada and the Pacific North West.

Z: Zed. We totally(ok, mostly) speak Amazon’s language. From business to lifestyle, there is a seamless fit in Calgary.

Those ABCs all come together as #HQ2YYC.

Stephen Ewart Profile Picture

BY Stephen Ewart

Director of Communications

Marketing & Communications

Stephen joined our Communications team in 2016 from the Calgary Herald where he was a columnist on the energy industry. He had previously worked in communications roles with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, Cenovus Energy, Encana and Precision Drilling and in journalism with The Canadian Press and the Telegraph-Journal in New Brunswick.

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