After promising to search North America for the perfect home for its next headquarters, Amazon has narrowed its list to 20 cities — 19 of which are in the United States. The one exception? Toronto.
An outlier on Amazon’s list, Toronto has earned the attention of the technology world due to its diverse population, talent pool and welcome stance on immigration.
“It’s got this incredible aspiration for inclusivity,” Dan Doctoroff, CEO of Sidewalk Labs, the urban innovation arm of Google’s parent company which is developing a Toronto neighborhood, said at an event Wednesday. “If Amazon sees what we see here, it won’t even be a close call.”
Toronto is the fourth largest city by population in North America, with 2.8 million people. Its percentage of foreign-born residents in the region — 39.7% — exceeds every other city on Amazon’s list. Its population has grown by more than 400,000 people in the last five years.
Toronto’s appeal to the tech sector, which relies on foreign workers, has grown amid diverging stances on immigration from the U.S. and Canadian governments. Last year, Canada launched a program to process work permits and visa applications for skilled workers within two weeks.
The Trump administration has moved to tighten access to H-1B visas, a popular route to tech jobs for foreign workers. Its 2017 travel ban for six majority-Muslim countries also rattled the tech industry, triggering foreigners to give more serious consideration to education and work outside the U.S.