Google and Amazon Come to Toronto

Google and Amazon Arriving in Toronto.


On October 18, 2017, a chief advisor to the Ontario Premier said that they would be offering no tax breaks to the newly proposed Amazon headquarters in Ontario.

This comment came during the same week that Google announced it would be setting up new operations in Toronto called Sidewalk labs.

The potential for both projects is enormous.   

Sidewalk Labs is a revitalization project for the Waterfront of Toronto. Sidewalk Labs is a partner company of Google that responds to a city’s requests for revitalization projects. Sidewalk Labs has committed $50 million to development, in addition to 1.25 billion from all three levels of government. The planning and consultation period for these projects will launch next year. Once completed, over 10,000 new residents will come to live and work.

Amazon’s new headquarters could potentially be the centerpiece for Sidewalk labs. Amazon, which employs over 380,000 people globally, has projected the creation of 50,000 new jobs for the winning city. The company intends to pay an average salary of $100,000 (US) annually, offer $5 billion in investments in the city, as well as offer 8 million square feet of new development in the city.

Amazon has already stated that municipalities offering incentives such as tax breaks for the proposed projects would have better chances of winning the bid. Amazon is poised to decide by the second quarter of 2018. This can place governments in a compromising position.


Should Tech companies be offered incentives from the Government to come to a city? 

One of the critical consideration of this question is that Tech companies are different from most other organizations. While most people are more than happy to accept an honest day’s work, all jobs are not created equally. For example, companies that focus on labor-intensive resource extraction are notorious for harsh work standards and environmental damage. Jobs in manufacturing are slightly better, but they usually demand lower wages and attempt to eliminate local unions. Manufacturing can also cause detrimental effects on the environment. Jobs in the tech sector differ in the sense that they are stable, high paying jobs that do not detract from their environment. Information is a truly unique commodity in that it is seemingly created out of thin air, adding value to the surrounding economy without leaving a trace environmentally. Furthermore, in the case of both Amazon and Google, the projects are expected to have an environmentally net-positive effect on the landscape of the city. Finally, tech companies have the potential to scale their operations globally, which means increased revenue for cities and provinces. The perfect example of this isa powerhouse like San Fransico.

Still, even if the intentions of tech companies coming to a city is entirely positive, the circumstance in the city might not be able to support their arrival. Suddenly have many high individuals in the city can place a huge strain on the housing market in the city. This is especially a pressing problem in Toronto that is facing a house crisis. The effects can already be seen in Seattle which already is the home of Amazon's first headquarters. They face some of the highest property prices in the world and has huge numbers of homeless people. Local startups will face strong competition due to their lower chances of paying salaries as high as an already established corporation. Therefore, young professionals would choose the big company over them.

All things considered, the government might be making the right move, by offering no incentive to Amazon. It shows the city and province are willing to negotiate from a position of strength will other cities desperate try to get the attention of Amazon. But at the end of the day most of the people reading this have no control over whether Amazon comes to Toronto, or if the Premier of Ontario offers them incentives, so the rest of the article will tell you how to best compete for a job if one of these firms come to your city.


Tips on how to get a job with a tech powerhouse like Google or Amazon

One thing that is unfortunate about the moderate workplace is that you might have to work for free. Get into an internship might be the best route to getting into a technology powerhouse like Amazon and Google. If you are in a financial position to take an internship take it as soon as possible. If you are not, then save until you are in that type of position.  

Another possible issue is if you finish university with a low GPA. It might not be the deal breaker that you might imagine it to be, most of the Human resources staff understand that school is not always the best proving ground for people and they know from personal experience that a high GPA might not lead to an impressive career. On the other hand, you might want to pursue a career with other companies for the first few years out of school before joining an elite organization like Google, if you have a particularly low GPA.

Invest in harnessing your talents, programming skills such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are highly sought after, so refine your skills. Be focus on one special skill and improve on it. Become so good that it will be hard to reject your application, this is what Google calls a “T-shaped” professional. Companies only hire professionals who will benefit their companies, so you must have a special value that you would add to the company. Capitalize on your value, make the company believe they need your service.

Matthew Griffin