Amazon bid could mean big things for Ryerson

Toronto is in the running to become the site for a second Amazon headquarters, and if the city wins the bid, it’ll mean big things for Ryerson University students.

Amazon promises a US$5 billion construction investment to the winning city and as “many as 50,000 high-paying jobs,” the company said in a press release.

Toronto is already in the process of securing a bid. If the city is successful, some of those employment opportunities could go to Ryerson students.

“By having Amazon close by, we can provide [students] with internships … co-op opportunities … there are a lot of different ways students can benefit from that practical experience,” said Seung Hwan (Mark) Lee, interim director of the retail management school at the Ted Rogers School of Management (TRSM).

“TRSM in general is trying to build a co-op program and expand it,” Lee said. “Having this sort of company be a part of Ryerson would be a great opportunity for many of the students here.”

Toronto: The future home of HQ2?

Toronto, for the most part, fits the bill.

Mayor John Tory has said on Twitter that Toronto is a “prime candidate” for Amazon. Toronto’s mayor promised he “will be leading the charge” to make Toronto the home of HQ2, already teaming up with the mayors of Mississauga and Brampton to strengthen the bid.

Nothing is set in stone as the tech giant is still accepting bids, but Ryerson students are already excited at the idea of Amazon calling Toronto its second home.

“Amazon is such a huge company, it’s going to be a really good opportunity for students in Toronto … to be able to learn first-hand at their headquarters that’s so close to home,” said Kailey Mah, a retail management student at Ryerson.

“I think it’s a huge opportunity,” said Daniel Bansgopaul, accounting and finance student in the TRSM co-op program.

Companies taking in Ryerson students also benefit, said Bansgopaul, and so will Amazon, if it does come to Toronto.

“How Amazon could benefit is the wealth of talent we have here. Just having that student perspective is different. It’s fresh, it’s new, it’s unique,” Bansgopaul said. “Both sides would benefit greatly.”

 

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Why Ryerson students and Amazon are a perfect fit

A partnership with Amazon wouldn’t be out of the realm of reason.

Ryerson already has partnerships with companies similar to Amazon, such as IBM, a regular recruiter.

Ryerson, however, isn’t well-known for tech programs. If Amazon does come to Toronto, the company may look elsewhere for student talent.

“Clearly Ryerson is not going to be their first choice. We’re not [the University of Waterloo], we’re not known for technology leadership yet, but we have other things that … can attract a relationship,” said Ozgur Turetken, director and professor at TSRM’s school of information technology management.

Ryerson has a technology and business-development focus, Turetken said, along with Canada’s largest business technology management and co-op programs. 

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Amazon isn’t a pure tech company either, so having students with a broader set of skills would benefit the company.

But aside from education, there’s something else unique to Ryerson that could give the university an edge over other Toronto-based institutions.

“I think Ryerson is ideally positioned to establish a strong relationship … [because of] the diversity of the Ryerson student population,” said Ian Ingles, operations manager at Ryerson’s Career Centre.

Diversity, Ingles said, is a key hiring requirement for large corporations like Amazon.

The case against Toronto

Unfortunately, American cities may have an edge over Toronto in the competition for HQ2.

Toronto doesn’t offer any real tax incentives for Amazon and operating a multinational corporation is inherently more difficult. Changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and exchange rates between American and Canadian currencies could also be a deterrent to choosing Toronto.

Business and tech industry experts, however, believe Amazon will award the bid to a city on the east coast, to complement their current headquarters in Seattle.

Toronto may not win the bid, but a nearby American city could, which would likely lead to an increased level of service for the Canadian side of Amazon.

More products on Amazon.ca and same-day shipping are examples.

So even if Ryerson students don’t receive the employment opportunities gained by a second Amazon headquarters, they’ll still reap the retail benefits.

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