Why, oh why would Amazon want to put another 1,000 jobs into a big new building, right on the Dunsmuir bike lane, in the middle of downtown Vancouver?
Here’s an answer, directly from Alexandre Gagnon, Amazon VP for Canada/Mexico.
To quote Mr. Gagnon (from the video, below): “Amazon was drawn to Vancouver because of the remarkable technical talent and the vibrant and diverse community here.”
Many thanks for this article and video to Derrick Penner and PostMedia outlet the Vancouver Sun.
As discussed HERE, the Toronto bid for the humongous Amazon HQ2 focuses on people. Apparently, the (still secret) Metro Vancouver bid has a similar focus amid concerns about a talent shortfall.
More broadly, it seems that Metro Vancouver is already an attractive and serious tech sector location. But perhaps an even rosier future will start with an upcoming Canadian Federal Gov’t announcement on the 5 winners who will split $950M support for tech “superclusters” in Canada. The BC/Vancouver area is one of 9 shortlisted bids. Among backers of this idea is Microsoft, whose President spoke at a recent Cascadia Innovation Corridor Conference. He called Vancouver “. . . a great home for technology and technology companies”.
Currently, the BC tech economy numbers look like this: revenue of $26B per year, 150,000 people employed, with faster than average growth. Major expertise areas are Internet of Things, game production, movie animation & special effects and large-scale data analysis. Apparently, this positions Vancouver and BC well to provide emerging services and products (such as data acquisition, visualization and analytics) to traditional industries — potentially huge markets.
Bringing it back to people, these industries are mostly (if not completely) people-driven. It’s not like, say, an airline, which has to buy and maintain huge expensive machines, processes and facilities at the core of the business, in addition to lots of people. If the tech people and synergies are here, tech business will grow and tech businesses will move in.
To me, people are the real message from the Amazon HQ-Lite announcement and the 1,000 new tech jobs it brings. And it’s likely the core of the massive, daunting Amazon HQ2 RFP. If HQ2 lands in Vancouver, it will be a fundamental step-change to an already-shifting view of who we are and what we do. For better or for worse? Time will tell, and the crystal ball remains opaque.