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Toronto’s chances of becoming home to Amazon.com Inc.’s second global headquarters appear to be fading. Leaders of the city’s bid say they’ve had no contact from the e-commerce firm in months, while reports say the company is in late-stage talks with three U.S. cities.

The e-commerce giant is expected to pick a host city for its planned $5-billion (U.S.), 50,000-employee “HQ2″ by the end of the year. Amazon officials visited the Toronto area in the spring, according to regional investment agency Toronto Global, which spearheaded its proposal, but there’s been little communication since then. The Toronto region was the sole remaining Canadian contender after 238 bidders were shortlisted to 20 finalists earlier this year.

“We got an e-mail from them in the summer just updating us as to process,” said Toby Lennox, Toronto Global’s chief executive officer, who has already begun referring to its bid in the past tense: “It was a great opportunity for us.” Mr. Lennox now considers the HQ2 bid a calling card to attract investment in the area. “It gave us a platform to promote the Toronto region writ large in a way that we would never have had," he said.

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Similarly, Amazon hasn’t connected with Toronto Mayor John Tory since he spoke with company officials in the spring, his office said. Amazon didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Reports from the Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post this past weekend indicated that New York, Dallas and Northern Virginia’s Crystal City, in the D.C. area, are in late-stage talks with Amazon to potentially move forward with HQ2; a subsequent Journal report on Monday suggested HQ2 could be split between two cities. The New York Times reported Monday night that Amazon is nearing deals to move to Crystal City and Queens.

This comes 14 months after Amazon first invited North American jurisdictions to submit proposals to host the second headquarters, seeking suitors with a strong labour pool, sufficient real estate and a “stable and business-friendly environment and tax structure” with well-stacked incentives, including through taxes, to offset costs.

Some of the U.S. finalists pulled out all the stops to offer Amazon incentives, such as New Jersey’s widely-reported offer of up to $7-billion (U.S.) in tax credits should the company select Newark. Toronto, and Canada, is now considered a long shot for HQ2: On top of months of silence from the retailer and cloud-services provider, major Canadian bidders stopped short of offering Amazon favourable tax treatment in their proposals.

But a series of e-mail exchanges obtained by The Globe and Mail shows that staff at Global Affairs Canada worked for weeks last September and October to run numbers and co-ordinate existing incentives for jurisdictions planning to bid on HQ2.

Led by chief economist Marie-France Paquet, Global Affairs economics, investment and trade staff worked in full force to build a case for Amazon to set up HQ2 here. While one-off federal tax breaks were off the table, GAC staff compiled lists of pre-existing credits, grants and funds, as well as complementary government and third-party statistics, to give at least 11 Canadian bidders a leg up.

More than 7,000 Canadians work for Amazon across the country, in tech development, warehouse-facility, and cloud-services roles, with an additional 6,000 jobs having already been announced. But whatever city or region wins the 50,000-employee HQ2 would also take on significant urban and economic change. The subsequent investment would cascade through every facet of life in the city, from residential and commercial real estate to transit and education systems. The company has said that its investments in its hometown of Seattle contributed to an additional $38-billion (U.S.) in the local economy between 2010 and 2016.

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The federal-staff e-mail exchanges were received from an Access to Information request provided to The Globe and Mail by NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus. He said he was frustrated that many of Global Affair’s discussions centred around the low cost of Canadian tech talent versus American workers, which emerged in several Canadian bids, including Toronto’s and Vancouver’s. That approach to paying workers, Mr. Angus said, “is competing with Eastern Europe and South Asia. That’s not the innovation economy.”

Mr. Lennox said in an interview that, without exclusive incentives, the Toronto HQ2 bid focused on positioning its talent attractively to Amazon, with help from the salary-analysis figures he received from the federal government. Global Affairs staff’s quest pulled in departments including Transport Canada; Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada; the Privy Council Office; and Statistics Canada. “They immediately said, ‘whatever help you need, we will provide,’ ” Mr. Lennox said.

One figure that generated much discussion in the e-mails was about healthcare savings. Assuming the project brought in 50,000 staff paid an average salary of $100,000 (U.S.), officials calculated that Amazon could save up to $600-million (U.S.) annually in employee healthcare and benefit spending, based on the “best extrapolation we might make" of an average cost-saving of 12 per cent for each employee, thanks in large part to Canada’s universal healthcare system.

That $600-million figure in particular appeared four times in the Toronto region’s HQ2 proposal. Global Affairs also reached out to an unnamed staff member of Boston Consulting Group, who said that while it was “a compelling statistic,” a “more holistic view of lower operating costs” in Canada would be between $1-billion and $1.5-billion. Regardless, the $600-million figure became the key talking point, and appeared in bids from cities such as Vancouver and Halifax, too.

“All known cities bidding were provided with the same information,” Global Affairs spokesman Brendan Sutton said in an e-mail when asked about the bids. “Foreign investment attraction, retention and expansion is a core mandate of Global Affairs Canada, and we have a close working relationship with provinces, territories and cities on foreign investment issues.”

Meanwhile, the minority owner of a 62-acre piece of unused land just outside of the city’s downtown called East Harbour, which was considered a strong contender if HQ2 landed in Toronto, isn’t waiting for Amazon to begin work on the site. Mark Cowie, an investor who is also an executive with Colliers International, said development plans were proceeding “no matter what Amazon’s ultimate decision is.”

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amazon nation

Across Canada, Amazon has created more than

7,000 full-time jobs, from its customer fulfill

ment facilities in Ontario, British Columbia and

Alberta to the AWS infrastructure region in the

Montreal area to the company’s Vancouver and

Toronto Tech Hubs.

Calgary

Vancouver

Winnipeg

Montreal

Ottawa

Toronto

Amazon’s workforce

Global

575,000

Canada*

12,100

( 5,400 disclosed 6,700 promised)

*Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec

Amazon centres in Canada

Site

Square footage

Jobs

1,000 disclosed

4,000 promised

Vancouver

Undisclosed

Corporate offices

New Westminster,

B.C.

450,000+

Combined 800

Fulfillment Centre

Delta, B.C.

190,000+

Fulfillment Centre

Tsawwassen First

Nations, Deltaport,

B.C.

700 (in 2019)

450,000

Fulfillment Centre

1,000+

Calgary

600,000

Fulfillment Centre

Winnipeg

Undisclosed

Undisclosed

AWS Thinkbox

600+

Toronto

Undisclosed

Tech Hub

Mississauga, Ont.

500,000

Fulfillment Centre

Combined 2,000

Milton, Ont.

375,000

Fulfillment Centre

Brampton, Ont.

500,000

Fulfillment Centre

Brampton, Ont.

850,000

Fulfillment Centre

600 (in 2019)

Carlsbad Spr., Ont.

1,000,000

Fulfillment Centre

1,400 (in 2019)

Caledon, Ont.

1,000,000

Fulfillment Centre

Montreal

Undisclosed

Undisclosed

AWS Canada

(Central)

JOHN SOPINSKI/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

SOURCE: amazon

amazon nation

Across Canada, Amazon has created more than 7,000

full-time jobs, from its customer fulfillment facilities in

Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta to the AWS infra-

structure region in the Montreal area to the company’s

Vancouver and Toronto Tech Hubs.

Calgary

Vancouver

Winnipeg

Montreal

Ottawa

Toronto

Amazon’s work force

Global

575,000

Canada*

12,100

( 5,400 disclosed 6,700 promised)

*Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec

Amazon centres in Canada

Site

Square footage

Jobs

1,000 disclosed

4,000 promised

Vancouver

Undisclosed

Corporate offices

New Westminster,

B.C.

450,000+

Combined 800

Fulfillment Centre

Delta, B.C.

190,000+

Fulfillment Centre

Tsawwassen First

Nations, Deltaport,

B.C.

700 (in 2019)

450,000

Fulfillment Centre

1,000+

Calgary

600,000

Fulfillment Centre

Winnipeg

Undisclosed

Undisclosed

AWS Thinkbox

600+

Toronto

Undisclosed

Tech Hub

Mississauga, Ont.

500,000

Fulfillment Centre

Combined 2,000

Milton, Ont.

375,000

Fulfillment Centre

Brampton, Ont.

500,000

Fulfillment Centre

Brampton, Ont.

850,000

Fulfillment Centre

600 (in 2019)

Carlsbad Spr., Ont.

1,000,000

Fulfillment Centre

1,400 (in 2019)

Caledon, Ont.

1,000,000

Fulfillment Centre

Montreal

Undisclosed

Undisclosed

AWS Canada

(Central)

JOHN SOPINSKI/THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: amazon

amazon nation

Across Canada, Amazon has created more than 7,000 full-time jobs, from its cus

tomer fulfillment facilities in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta to the AWS

infrastructure region in the Montreal area to the company’s Vancouver and

Toronto Tech Hubs.

Calgary

Winnipeg

Vancouver

Montreal

Ottawa

Toronto

Amazon’s work force

Global

575,000

Canada*

12,100

( 5,400 disclosed 6,700 promised)

*Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec

Amazon centres in Canada

Site

Square footage

Jobs

1,000 disclosed

4,000 promised

Vancouver

Undisclosed

Corporate offices

New Westminster, B.C.

450,000+

Fulfillment Centre

Combined 800

190,000+

Delta, B.C.

Fulfillment Centre

700 (in 2019)

Tsawwassen First

Nations, Deltaport , B.C.

450,000

Fulfillment Centre

1,000+

Calgary

600,000

Fulfillment Centre

Winnipeg

Undisclosed

Undisclosed

AWS Thinkbox

600+

Toronto

Undisclosed

Tech Hub

Mississauga, Ont.

500,000

Fulfillment Centre

Combined 2,000

Milton, Ont.

375,000

Fulfillment Centre

Brampton, Ont.

500,000

Fulfillment Centre

Brampton, Ont.

850,000

Fulfillment Centre

600 (in 2019)

Carlsbad Springs, Ont.

1,000,000

Fulfillment Centre

1,400 (in 2019)

Caledon, Ont.

Fulfillment Centre

1,000,000

Montreal

Undisclosed

Undisclosed

AWS Canada (Central)

JOHN SOPINSKI/THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: amazon

With a report from Rachelle Younglai

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