hen a province is creating more than half the new jobs for its nation, chances are it's a leader in competitiveness.
That's what Ontario did in June, and it's one of the reasons why the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Trade is this year's recipient of the Site Selection Canadian Competitiveness Award, which recognizes the top provincial economic development agency for project activity between June 2010 and May 2011.
Figures released by Ontario's Ministry of Finance in July showed seven straight quarters of economic growth and higher business investment. Fifty-seven percent of all new Canadian jobs had been created in Ontario during the previous six months. Ontario gained more than 40,000 jobs in June alone. And in 2010, Ontario was a leader in FDI, attracting 127 foreign direct investment projects that created more than 11,200 jobs.
In addition to continuing to attract head office projects to Toronto, the province continues to attract manufacturing. Two projects in two days in early August typify the activity: On Aug. 4, the Oshawa Assembly Plant attracted one of several recent investments from General Motors, C$117 million, to build a new model of Cadillac. The project creates or retains 400 jobs at the plant's flex line. In the past year the plant has added three new models and two shifts totaling 1,300 employees, bringing total payroll to 4,500.
"Adding the Cadillac XTS affirms GM's commitment to a strong manufacturing base in Canada, ensuring Oshawa will have a critical role in the ongoing transformation of Cadillac," said Kevin Williams, president and managing director of General Motors of Canada.
The very next day, Aug. 5, Toyota and electric-car partner Tesla announced they would build the RAV4 Electric at Toyota's successful plant in Woodstock, Ont., using electric powertrains shipped from Tesla's plant in Palo Alto, Calif. The news came a month after the province assisted with a $545-million Toyota investment in its plants in Woodstock and Cambridge to make them "greener." According to the province, "Project Green Light" will help secure 6,500 jobs at the two plants.
The province has been implementing tax changes that, among other things, have cut taxes on business investment in half. The Government of Canada is lowering the federal general corporate income tax rate from 22.12 percent (including the corporate surtax) in 2007 to 15 percent in 2012. It was reduced to 16.5 percent on January 1, 2011. Federal, provincial and territorial leaders are working toward the goal of a 25-percent combined federal-provincial corporate income tax rate.
Ontario's approach to renewable energy and water technologies has also been aggressive, highlighted by its feed-in tariff for renewable power. One of the most recent of many renewable power firms to set up shop in Ontario in the past year is Energy Conversion Devices subsidiary United Solar, based in Michigan, which will invest $4 million and create up to 80 jobs making thin-film solar laminates in LaSalle, part of the Windsor-Essex region. Ontario leaders expect their Green Energy Act to help create 50,000 new clean energy jobs by the end of 2012.
Other recent investments in Ontario have included a new facility from Bakkavor Foods Canada, creating 50 new jobs with a fresh food manufacturing center in Cobourg; and a new meat products processing facility in St. Catharines from New Food Classics that will employ 150 at the outset, with a goal of 400 employees eventually. As recently as 2009, Ontario's food processing industry generated more than $33 billion in revenues. It has now become the nation's largest manufacturing sector by sales.
No wonder former corporate executive and business advisor Tom Faranda used food to extol Canada's virtues vs. the U.S. in a speech to the Industrial Asset Management Council earlier this year:
"I have been sending clients to Canada," he said. "Set up the specs, go hire a bakery in Canada, where it will cost you 40 percent less, ship it down, and serve all your markets," he said, while lauding the resources opportunities yet to come in Alberta and Saskatchewan. "Sometimes the best thing in your life is right next door."
Another hot area is digital media, which most recently has seen a number of firms such as Arkadium and Gameloft (Toronto), Silicon Knights (St. Catharines), and Digital Extremes (London) locate significant operations in the province, helped by the Ontario Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit, among other factors. Digital media has been a successful sector over the years in Québec as well.
All of which should give other competitors pause, as the two provinces earlier this year continued to make progress in making it easier to do business between the two jurisdictions, which together form the fourth-largest economic zone in North America. Ontario and Québec are home to more than 21 million people and $204 billion in exports. The two provinces represent more than 55 percent of interprovincial trade in Canada, and as a region represent 58 percent of Canada's total GDP, worth $882 billion. So perhaps it's no wonder that seven of our Top 10 Canadian Economic Development Groups of 2011 hail from these two powerful provinces.
Consistency in corporate project attraction (as tracked by Conway Data's New Plant Database), job creation, regional partnership, proactive programming and quality data and Web resources distinguish this select group, presented here in alphabetical order:
Canada's Technology Triangle
John G. Jung, Chief Executive Officer
ven as its pride and joy Research In Motion announces 2,000 job cuts this summer, the triumvirate of Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo can boast of the Toyota project cited above, as well as projects such as Christie Digital Systems' $138-million, 50-job expansion and DALSA's $160-million, 114-job expansion in Waterloo. The area is also the home of fast-growing Canadian Solar.
In addition to corporate and international outreach, one of CTT's best assets is the university community, led by the University of Waterloo. At a medical diagnostics panel discussion in May sponsored by the Ontario Centres of Excellence program, Olga Pawluczyk, president, P&P Optica Inc., said, "I'm very lucky our company is located in Waterloo," citing the area's Communitech program, among others, as helpful in growing her firm from six people to 20. For that matter, she said, "We're very lucky in Canada. We did a survey of my 20 people and we speak eight languages, and 20 percent were born in Canada. We are very fortunate in how diverse the society is in Ontario."
John Connolly, vice president of corporate development for Rna Diagnostics Inc., finds the intellectual property policy at the university friendly to his field. Researchers are easy to work with, he said, "because the IP is not something the university thinks they should own. It's not even on the table. It certainly makes it a lot easier for industry to want to work with those types of universities." This spring, Google established a new office in Kitchener at the same time it announced a new funding partnership with the University of Waterloo.
The Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo census metropolitan area trails only Toronto in the latest Canadian Metropolitan Economic Activity Index rankings from CIBC World Markets, issued in July.
Edmonton Economic Development Corp.
Ron Gilbertson, president
he Spring 2011 edition of The Conference Board of Canada's Metropolitan Outlook placed Edmonton among the top four metro areas in the nation, thanks to Alberta's energy industry. The region's GDP is forecast to increase by 3.1 percent in 2011.
Projects are unfolding in Greater Edmonton from energy leader Enbridge, software firm Bioware, Gregg Distributors and construction equipment firm Strongco Corp. In downtown Alberta, a new Royal Alberta museum is on the way, which will complement a new entertainment and arena district. Ron Gilbertson and other area leaders believe the new district "would enhance our city as a vibrant, northern business centre and as a focal point for new investment from the city, region and abroad," he wrote in the EEDC's second-quarter newsletter. "Indeed, such community facilities add to the city and region's overall quality of life. They complement efforts to recruit and retain young talent so vital to our success." Accordingly, EEDC's new Downtown Vibrancy Task Force builds on the Quality of Life unit it created in 2010. Among the corporate citizens already in Edmonton is global architecture, engineering, planning and project management firm Stantec, which has been headquartered in the city ever since its founding in 1954 by environmental engineer Dr. Don Stanley, and now boasts more than 11,000 employees and 170 locations.
EEDC's overarching vision is to be one of the world's top five mid-sized cities by 2030, based in part on success building up the life sciences, financial services and energy sectors. By that time, oil sands production is projected to have more than doubled.
Greater Halifax Partnership
Paul Kent, President and CEO
rojects assisted by the GHP created 710 new jobs and nearly $98 million in capital investment in the period examined, including facility projects from Emera, Cherubini and General Liquids, as well as expansions from Citco, TD Insurance and several IT firms. The cargo and passenger numbers are up at Halifax Stanfeld International Airport, and only figure to grow as the airport extends its runway this year to handle larger aircraft, and also hosts a new 40,000-sq.-ft. (3,716-sq.-m.) facility adjacent to its runway from Gateway Facilities ULC. Containerized cargo at the Port of Halifax grew by 25 percent from the previous year to over 435,000 TEUs.
The group's Smart Business Action Team consulted with over 260 businesses over the past year, and responded to those companies' challenges accessing capital and talent, helping to resolve 150 business issues and create more than 575 jobs. Other programs connect businesses with newcomers and with international students, and also help employers deal with immigration processes in order to hire skilled workers from abroad.
This summer, the GHP became the first economic development organization in Canada to be certified as an Accredited Economic Development Organization (AEDO) by the International Economic Development Council, joining a select group of 28 to have achieved that designation, and an even more select group of just two outside the U.S.
City of Hamilton –
Economic Development & Real Estate Division
Neil Everson, Director
he Economic Development office's "Hamilton Calling" program involved a total of 400 company visits in 2010, including 162 company revisits. "What we have learned from these visits and through our research is that Hamilton has gained approximately 1,302 new jobs over the past year, with 68 percent of the companies planning to expand over the next three years," say office officials. Among the $577 in total investment are steel mill investments from ArcelorMittal Dofasco and Max Aicher North America; new facilities from HVAC firm AMTS, Top Lift Enterprises, Union Gas and SP Data; and a new corporate headquarters and training center from Carstar Automotive Canada, based in Hamilton for more than 50 years.
In addition to a newly enhanced website for site selectors, a new comprehensive industrial zoning by-law means the city has gone from 41 different industrial-related zones within six different municipal zoning by-laws to six Industrial Zones (M1-M6). The office also has launched the first ever LEED Grant program in Canada.
Hamilton set a new record in building permit activity in 2010 with over $1 billion in construction value, including 45 percent non-residential construction (an increase of 23 percent from the previous year). The new record exceeded the previous one set in 2008 by about $200 million. Real Estate Investment Network of Canada in May ranked the City of Hamilton as the top location in which to invest in Ontario (2011-2015), and third in all of Canada. The ranking noted the city's increasing partnership with McMaster University.
London Economic Development Corp.
Peter White, President and CEO
EDC helped 886 new jobs call on London in the past year, accompanied by more than $163 million in investment. The projects came from such companies as Dancor ($61 million), KACO ($2.5 million, 50 jobs) and Diversy ($4.7 million, 270 jobs).
LEDC has added to its arsenal new strategies for building the life sciences sector and for developing industrial land. It's also added two city-owned business parks, complete with services, totaling 246 acres (100hectares) for heavy and light industrial use. And it's made international headway, first with an outreach program to the target countries of Korea, the U.S., France, the U.K., Germany and Sweden; and second, with the establishment of a new international water center of excellence.
Like other forward-leaning communities in Canada, London benefits from its relationships with higher learning institutions. In this case it's meant the creation of a downtown campus for Fanshawe College, which will bring 1,000 students downtown to its School for Applied and Performance Arts and Digital Media. Meanwhile, Germany's esteemed Fraunhofer Institute is joining with the University of Western Ontario to establish the International Composites Research Centre.
City of Mississauga
Economic Development Office
Director of Economic Development
his perennial high achiever helped create nearly 3,000 jobs during the examined period, driven by more than $43 million in industrial building value and nearly $92 million in commercial building value. Projects included a new distribution center from Oceans Fresh Food Market, a new logistics center and training academy from Mercedes-Benz Canada and a new production facility from photovoltaic inverter maker Fronius Canada. Other projects came from Kraft Canada and logistics firm Kuehne & Nagel. Ornge and Shaw Group established major offices in the city, bringing 400 and 200 jobs, respectively. The city is also seeing plenty of growth from existing companies, with a 150-employee expansion from Pride Pak Canada, and significant employee growth at Just Energy (360 jobs), Ecolab (342) and GE Canada (100).
Mississauga continues to marshal data to its advantage, presenting it as transparently as possible through the work of its information planning research unit. That data is among the tools that helped the office create a new 10-year economic development strategy.
A 2011 Best Employers for New Canadians designation from the Globe and Mail recognized the city for addressing the practical challenges that new Canadians face when seeking employment." The city is also in the early stages of forming a new sustainability program for its business community called the Living Green Master Plan.
Jacques St.-Laurent, President and CEO
arlier this summer, Pfizer Canada inaugurated its newly modernized head office in Montréal, where a $22-million renovation brings two divisions under one roof. It's just one example of the city's continuing strength in life sciences. In May, Pharmascience inaugurated its new labs and facilities in Montréal. The $40-million project will result in the creation of 180 jobs by 2012.
Other projects bringing life to the Montréal economy include two expansions from Pratt & Whitney totaling more than $1.3 billion; a $225-million expansion from Rolls-Royce Canada; and a $176-million expansion from Bollore Group's BatHium Canada unit, which will hire 245 people over the next five years to manufacture lithium metal polymer batteries. Other aerospace projects have come from Mechtronix Systems Inc.; Macdonald, Dettwiler and Associates; and Dornier Seaplane Co. Industrial engineering firm Assystem, which has a strong aerospace practice, announced this summer it would add 100 jobs in Montréal over the next two years. Aéro Montréal, Québec's aerospace cluster, this summer launched a new program named MACH initiative aiming to improve the industry supply chain's performance.
MI continues to get traction with its PR@M-Industry subsidy program for owners of eligible occupied non-residential buildings in the metro area, which offers a five-year general property tax rebate on the increase in property value resulting from the construction, conversion or expansion of an industrial building. It also continues to garner dynamism courtesy of McGill University.
Carl Viel, President and CEO
early $13.1 billion in new capital investments led to the creation of approximately 13,315 new jobs in this region of 1.1 million people during the examined time period. In addition, say agency officials, "a number of major infrastructure projects have not yet been launched, such as the Center of Excellence for Alcoa's Global Primary Products Group, the methane terminal, numerous "green neighborhood" projects and plant reconstructions."
Last year was marked by a consolidation of internal assets and expansion of QI's foreign investment prospecting activities, with the FDI prospecting team now numbering 18 people. That focus on subsidiaries of foreign companies also meant strengthened ties with the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) and Invest Québec. In 2010, 11 investment projects were carried out by 11 foreign subsidiaries, with a total value of approximately $600 million and some 1,710 jobs created or maintained. They included companies such as Davie Québec, Beenox and Prevost Car.
International talent recruitment goes hand in hand with the corporate attraction effort. Several recruitment missions involving area companies have been conducted in France and Belgium, resulting in nearly 5,000 candidate interviews and at least 175 current or forthcoming hires and relocations.
For entrepreneurs, less than one year after the Propulsion fast-track growth program was launched with six high-tech startups, the companies have recorded an average revenue increase of 100 percent, together with total investments of $2 million and 26 jobs created. The agency's life sciences efforts were boosted by the launch of Biopolis Québec earlier this year, accompanied by stronger ties with provincial and Catalonian bio organizations. A new partnership agreement was also signed with Cosmetic Valley, a perfume and cosmetic industry cluster west of Paris, France.
Related growth in nutrition and food industries has included a new $7-million research center from Biscuits Leclerc in Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures. In 2010, the digital arts and interactive entertainment industry was mapped out and nearly 80 active companies were identified. And a new business network in the area of green and intelligent buildings was launched in 2010.
Regina Regional Opportunities Commission
Larry Hiles, President and CEO
he Regina metropolitan area, with a population of 215,000, ranked fourth in the Canadian Metropolitan Economic Activity Index rankings from CIBC World Markets, issued in July. RROC, just created in 2009 in a merger between the city's tourism and EDA organizations, is doing its part to keep the growing capital city of Saskatchewan at the top. According to the Conference Board of Canada, Regina's future economy, based in part on its leadership in the finance, energy and agri-business sectors, will create almost 10,000 full- time jobs by the year 2015.
Consumers' Cooperative Refineries Ltd. announced plans for $1.9 billion expansion of its Regina refinery expected to be complete this year. Meanwhile, the Global Transportation Hub (GTH), under development just to the city's west, may prove to be truly global in scope. The GTH project currently consists of about 2,000 acres (809 hectares) of serviced land; a new higher capacity intermodal facility from Canadian Pacific capable of about 250,000 container lifts annually; a 1-million-sq.-ft. (92,900-sq.-m.), 800-job distribution center operated by Canadian Logistics Services to serve the Loblaw's group of stores (inaugurated early this year); and road infrastructure upgrades. This summer, Yanke Group and affiliate AFI Distribution Group's 40-acre (16-hectare) project was announced at GTH, bringing with it a $20-million investment, 40 new jobs, and between 400 and 500 truckloads per week.
In addition to a growing supply of industrial space at several industrial parks and areas, Innovation Place, a $60-million research and innovation center next to the University of Regina, recently added enough space to bump its capacity to 270 employees. And it was recently announced that Regina will be the home of Stantec's clean coal center of excellence.
Windsor Essex Economic Development Corp.
Ron Gaudet, CEO
his region across the border from Detroit saw 1,389 new jobs created and announced during the examined time period, backed by more than $85 million in new investment. In a report released in February 2011, the Conference
Board of Canada predicted that the Windsor Census Metropolitan Area will have the fastest growing economy of any metropolitan area in Canada, with expected GDP growth of 3.9 percent in 2011. It's a significant sign in a community that experienced unemployment levels above 15 percent during the worst of the recession.
If any city can lay claim to being a greentech capital, Windsor can. In addition to the United Solar project cited above, among the projects to arrive in the past year are a solar panel plant from Germany's Algatec that will see 200 employees eventually after a $10-million investment; a 300-job, $20-million investment from CS Wind that will make wind turbine towers for Samsung's family of projects in Ontario; a 175-job solar panel site from Spanish firm Siliken SA; a 60-job solar panel plant from Unconquered Sun; and a $5.4-million, 174-job residential wind turbine plant from Windtronics, operating out of a former automotive parts facility.
Other projects have come from BASF ($20 million); Tesla Digital ($1 million for LED-based lighting systems); Pristine LED and auto parts supplier Nemak.
With all that activity, it's a good thing WEEDC maintains an active Manufacturers Capabilities Database, developed in collaboration with the Centre for Smart Community Innovation at the University of Windsor. From March 2010 through to February 2011, with extensive community and stakeholder consultation, WEEDC developed its 2011 Regional Economic Roadmap, which represents a five-year strategy for the region.
All dollar amounts in this article are in Canadian dollars unless otherwise noted.
At press time the exchange rate stood at US$1=C$1.01396.