It's a proud moment for Ontarians, as Toronto has made Amazon's shortlist of potential homes for its HQ2, the company's second North American headquarters.

But no one should be surprised that the city has made it this far – the region is already a tech and innovation hub and a spectacular place to make a home. Here are just a few reasons why the city and its neighbouring Ontario communities are the ideal spot for HQ2.

Our talent raises the bar

Along with a healthy number of startups in the province, major tech companies have already established research and development operations here, including Apple, Google, IBM and Amazon itself.

The draw? Talent.

The Canadian government makes it simple for businesses to secure highly skilled workers in technical careers. For example, it recently kicked off a new business immigration program to issue work permits in two weeks – rather than two years. That helps companies get the best talent they need, from around the globe, in a matter of days. In its first four months, 2,000 job candidates have come to Canada through the program and it doesn't have a cap, so our talent pool will keep expanding.

In all, Ontario welcomes over 150,000 foreign temporary workers each year, adding to an impressive labour force that boasts 400,000 tech workers and a higher rate of post-secondary education degrees per capita than any OECD country.

And we're nurturing the next generation of workers.

The Ontario government has committed to boosting the province's number of STEM graduates to 50,000 annually over the next five years, while also pledging to graduate 1,000 applied master's students in artificial intelligence per year within the same time frame.

With all that said, the cost of doing business here – from employee healthcare costs to R&D – is still lower than other G7 markets. In fact, salary costs for the types of high-tech jobs Amazon is looking to hire are 36-39% lower in Toronto than in major U.S. tech hubs.

Related: Toronto scores high on quality, low on costs

We're always breaking new ground

Innovation and Ontario go hand-in-hand. From artificial intelligence to autonomous vehicles, technologies that seemed far out of reach a decade ago have become a reality – and Ontario is leading the charge. Take for instance, the Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence, an independent, collaborative body advancing AI research while driving the application, adoption and commercialization of AI technologies across Canada.

Plus, the Toronto-Waterloo corridor has earned the moniker "Quantum Valley" for good reason. It's home to the world-renowned Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, the Institute for Quantum Computing and the Quantum Valley Ideas Lab.

Quantum Valley Investments, meanwhile, will be an independent research organization dedicated to real-world application and commercialization. And the Creative Destruction Lab's Quantum Machine Learning Program, launched last year in Toronto, is the world's first start-up-focused quantum-machine learning initiative.

Our diversity and quality of life are second-to-none

Finally, in order to get great people, you need great places to call home, and Toronto and its fellow Ontario cities are consistently ranked among the top locations in the world to live and work.

Just ask anyone and they'll tell you, from our stunning landscapes and clean environment, to our top rated public education system and universal healthcare, Ontario rolls out the welcome mat for the best talent to bring their ideas and energy from anywhere in the world.

As a result, Ontario, and Toronto in particular, has become one of the most diverse regions in the world. That diversity, of course, translates to a talent pool that's innovative and internationally minded. But it also means a dynamic, vibrant community where you can discover everything from new food to eye-opening arts and culture, all in your own backyard.

Together, these benefits make the region a huge draw for any company looking to innovate and grow in a place where people want to call home. And it's no wonder Amazon has seen our potential.


February 2, 2018

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