Amazon selects Sussex, N.B. for its new HQ2

Sussex considering renaming town to Amassex in light of Amazon’s investment.

I’D BET GOOD MONEY that you immediately categorized the above headline as ‘fake news’ but my ‘Big Think’ is to ask, why not? What’s holding New Brunswick back from landing a major RFP such as that issued by Amazon for its second headquarter location dubbed HQ2?

In a public process this fall, Amazon posted a Request for Proposals for the $5-billion project. Expected to create 50,000 jobs with an average salary of $100k, indirect revenue will top tens of billions.

Amazon received 238 proposals across 54 states and provinces in Canada and the United States. New Brunswick was among a handful of jurisdictions like Arkansas and South Dakota that didn’t make a submission. (Really New Brunswick?)

Reality check: this is how forward-thinking companies are evaluating investments—and how we need to think in response.
—Tracy Clinch

Amazon’s wish-list is telling. It isn’t about low taxes. They are seeking a diverse community that understands technology. Reality check: this is how forward-thinking companies are evaluating investments—and how we need to think in response.

On some points, Amazon’s wish list matches our competitive advantages:
• Community: diverse population and recreational opportunities
• Quality of life: housing, cost of living, and crime statistics.

However, as a New Brunswicker who promotes technology around the globe, some criteria stung as familiar challenges: international travel logistics and hiring for technical positions.

Amazon calls for an international airport with direct flights to New York City, San Francisco, and Washington. (Oh, to have just one of those routes and one overseas to avoid stops in Montreal or Toronto!)

For my fictional town of Amassex, I’m envisioning a regional airport that pools air traffic to attract routes. Our cities are stronger together and we need that combined strength.

For the second challenge, it will take a long-term vision to prepare a significant workforce in fields like computer science, electronics, mechatronics, and data science.

Interestingly, in addition to labour force requirements, Amazon’s RFP seeks information on computer-science programs from K-12. I’m imagining a New Brunswick school system that offers integrated STEM programs from an early age, immersing youth in coding, robotics, and engineering to excel in high-paying jobs.

Beyond a fictional Amassex, Amazon HQ2 is not realistic in today’s New Brunswick.

My ‘Big Think’ is a New Brunswick that excels with major centres cooperating to compete globally, and investing in infrastructure and youth so that we can attract major investments.

Why New Brunswick? Why not.

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