Salesforce will invest $2 billion in its Canadian business over the next five years, the company announced on Thursday, growing its office space, data center capacity, and Canadian workforce. The announcement came during a visit by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to San Francisco, where he is meeting with tech company executives to encourage them to grow their businesses in Canada, Reuters reports. In particular, Trudeau hopes to woo these tech companies with Canada’s more business-friendly immigration policies at a time when President Donald Trump is cracking down on legal immigration to the United States:
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff did not specify why the company chose Canada but he said, “Like you, we’re a city that values diversity, we value equality and we also value innovation. …We know we’ll be able to have a great business environment in Canada.” The company did not respond to a question about whether the immigration policies in the two countries influenced the decision.
Other American tech companies have bitten at Trudeau’s offer in the past year, Reuters adds, bolstering his efforts to make Canada (particularly Toronto) a hub for artificial intelligence and other cutting-edge technologies. Since last May, Uber, Alphabet’s DeepMind unit, Facebook, and Microsoft announced plans to establish or expand AI research labs in Canadian cities, including Toronto, Edmonton, and Montreal. Toronto is also on Amazon’s short list of contenders for its second headquarters in North America.
Trudeau has sought to attract US tech talent and investments like these over the past year by opening up its immigration laws to make it easier and faster for businesses there to hire foreign talent, as well as touting its commitment to diversity and inclusion. This pitch is in deliberate contrast to the anti-immigration policy priorities of the Trump administration, the Associated Press points out:
Government-sponsored billboards in Silicon Valley pitch: “H1-B Problems? Pivot to Canada.” Recruiters from cities in Canada attend Canadian university alumni events in the valley, urging graduates to come home “to your next career move in the Great White North.”
Trudeau demurred when asked whether Trump’s immigration efforts are making the sales pitch easier, pointing to the power of globalism. “We know that bringing in great talent from around the world is an enormous benefit, not just to the companies that want to do that, but to Canadian jobs and to our country as a whole, so we’re going to continue to do that,” he said.
So far, his efforts have shown signs of success, which now include Salesforce’s announcement. The company currently employs over 1,300 Canadians and counts more than 6,000 Toronto companies among its customers, according to the Star. It did not say how many jobs its new investments were expected to create.