Microsoft Canada joins trend of moving corporate HQ from suburbs to downtown

Longtime REVITALIZATION readers have seen us document a number of major corporate headquarters that have wisely moved their headquarters from sprawl zones into downtowns.

In every case we’ve documented, one of the—if not THE—reason was to attract younger and/or higher-quality employees via a higher quality of life. That means not spending hours per day commuting, but rather being able to walk, bike or use public transit to get to work and play. Smart employees demand smart locations.

The latest to join this trend is Microsoft Canada. Here’s an open letter written on September 11, 2018 by Kevin Peesker, President of Microsoft Canada, about their upcoming move to downtown Toronto, Ontario:

“Today, at Microsoft Canada’s Annual General Meeting, I had the privilege of sharing an incredibly exciting announcement. With the support of the Canadian Leadership Team, I let our 2,300+ employees know that Microsoft Canada’s headquarters will be moving to a state-of-the-art facility in the heart of downtown Toronto. In the fall of 2020, we will establish our new home at 81 Bay Street – right across the street from Scotiabank Arena in the city’s red-hot South Core district.

Locating our head office in the heart of downtown Toronto not only makes sense for our growing workforce, but it also moves us closer to the customers we serve and to the tremendous talent pool that Toronto is attracting. With Toronto’s world class universities, new technology hubs like the MaRS Discovery District and Element AI along with numerous start-ups and incubator programs, the city is an absolute hotbed for the best and brightest minds fueling the next generation of innovation.

The new Microsoft Canada HQ will span 132,000 square feet over four floors of CIBC Square – a new building, well-served by local and regional transit – which will make a major impact on the cityscape with new greenspace decked out over the railway corridor. The office will follow a modern, holistic design sensibility that helps connect employees to each other, to the environment, and to the spaces and amenities that helps them be their most productive. We are committed to empowering our customers and enabling them to thrive in the modern workplace, and we wouldn’t have it any other way for our own employees. It will be a vibrant, exciting place to work.

Our future Canadian HQ will include a new, state-of-the-art Microsoft Technology Centre (MTC) so that we can continue to help empower digital transformation for our partners and customers with innovative technologies, solutions and expertise. We plan to augment our MTC with learning spaces to continue our current practice of igniting tech passion for compute and AI in Canadian school aged youth.

This new office represents just one of a series of major investments we have made in recent years, which will enable a significant expansion of Microsoft’s Canadian operations, including adding 500 employees and growing our development centre in Vancouver and AI research lab in Montreal.

This is in addition to our investment in Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster which is projected to generate 50,000 new jobs that provide skilled and long-term employment opportunities for Canadians; our $10M investment over 5 years into the Cascadia Innovation Corridor; and our ongoing commitment to giving Canadian youth access to STEM learning and upskilling technology workers for the jobs of the future. In FY18 alone, Microsoft Canada invested more than $2M in programs, courses, OpenHacks and resources to help developers and data scientists across our country’s tech eco-system update their skills and get hands-on training.

By making this move to the heart of Toronto, we are putting a new stake in the ground; one which says in the most tangible way possible that Microsoft will continue to be a committed leader in the development of Canada’s human capital, technological advancement and innovation capability. As someone who was born in western Canada and has lived for over 15 years in Toronto, it fills me with pride to see the positive contribution my colleagues at Microsoft Canada and our partners are making coast to coast to help ensure Canada is a true global leader in technology and innovation. I’m proud that we’re doing our part to help retain our country’s best and brightest while making Canada the destination of choice for top minds and talent from around the world – I am certain our children will appreciate our collective efforts.”

Photo of downtown Toronto by Storm Cunningham.

See Microsoft Canada website.

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