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From Site Selection magazine, September 2021

Tech Talent Leads the Way Among Elite Canadian Regions

Young talent and a wealth of students are afoot in Montréal.
Photo of Mount Royal © Tourisme Québec/Dominique Lafond


CBRE’s 2021 “Scoring Tech Talent” report card says it all: In comparing tech degree graduates to tech job creation numbers in markets across North America, three of the top five were in Canada.

They are, in order, No. 1 Toronto, No. 3 Montréal and No. 4 Vancouver. Those markets this year are among the regions receiving another honor: designation as top locations in Site Selection’s Canada’s Best Locations 2021. At the province level — which like the regions is evaluated based on corporate facility project activity, capital investment and job creation on a per-capita as well as cumulative basis — Québecemerges as the most competitive province inthe nation.

“Canada has about 1 million tech workers,” said Colin Yasukochi, executive director of the CBRE Tech Insights Center, when the CBRE report was released in July. Moreover, Waterloo, Montréal and Québec City were the lowest cost markets in North America for tech talent and office space. In fact, eight of the 10 lowest-cost tech talent markets were in Canada, with an average annual salary for a software engineer in Montréal, Edmonton or Québec City about half what it would cost in Boston, New York, Washington, D.C., or San Diego. The CBRE “Scoring Tech Talent” report notes that Greater Toronto’s tech talent labor pool has grown by 42.8% to 270,400, trailing only the Bay Area and New York. It also groups Toronto under the “gateway” label, and for good reason, due to the influx of foreign talent the metro area welcomes thanks to a progressive immigration policy. But Toronto and some of its sister cities top another metric in the report too: Among the areas with the most tech talent concentration, Ottawa is No. 1 in North America at 11.6% of total employment. Toronto is No. 3 and Waterloo, Ontario, is No. 4. Ottawa and Waterloo also make this year’s list of Canada’s Best Locations below.

While tech is hot, it doesn’t come close to describing all that these leading Canadian provinces and regions have to offer. These citations fill out the picture.


Guy LeBlanc
Guy LeBlanc, president and CEO, Invest Québec, says the province intends to invest between $1 billion and 2 billion dollars alongside $4 billion to $6 billion in private investments in the electric vehicle battery sector over the next two to three years.


Invest Québec
Guy LeBlanc, President & CEO

“With its growing reputation as a technology hot spot, particularly in leading-edge areas such as gaming and artifi cial intelligence, we are drawn to Montréal for its burgeoning talent as well as its bilingual and diverse demographic.”

— Tarek Fadel, founder and CEO of digital IP management solutions fi rm FADEL, July 2021, on the fi rm’s plans to establish a 50-job R&D center in Montréal

Recent Projects: UPS, Hitachi, AppDirect, Groupe Kamélieon, Hershey Canada, Xnrgy Climate Systems

Invest Québec is known for having more expansive fi nancing capacity than most state or provincial economic development agencies. That institutional strength came in handy during a pandemic year. The organization had received some 600 fi nancial aid requests from Québecois companies by mid-summer 2020. And part of Invest Québec’s mandate is to keep corporate headquarters in the province. “We’ve sat down with many companies to review their capital structure,” Invest Québec President and CEO Guy LeBlanc told the Montréal Gazette last June. “In some cases, if appropriate, we could take an equity stake.”

Invest Québec is known for having more expansive fi nancing capacity than most state or provincial economic development agencies. That institutional strength came in handy during a pandemic year. The organization had received some 600 fi nancial aid requests from Québecois companies by mid-summer 2020. And part of Invest Québec’s mandate is to keep corporate headquarters in the province. “We’ve sat down with many companies to review their capital structure,” Invest Québec President and CEO Guy LeBlanc told the Montréal Gazette last June. “In some cases, if appropriate, we could take an equity stake.”

Another $300 million went toward the Plan for a Green Economy and $247 million was to be invested to promote Québec production and buying locally.

Among other measures over the course of the year, more than 100 staff were transferred in spring 2020 from the Québec government’s Ministry of the Economy to Invest Quebec, part of an overall 300-employee expansion by the agency. With a funding target of $2.4 billion over 4 years, IQ’s Productivity Innovation initiative aims to boost competitiveness and accelerate the growth of local businesses by helping them leverage innovation, including in such areas as automation, digitization, robotization and artifi cial intelligence.

Invest Ontario
Trevor Dauphinee, Interim CEO

“As our global competitors emerge from the COVID-19 crisis, they will be working in overdrive to attract investment and spur economic recovery. A dynamic and vibrant venture capital market will be essential for Ontario to stay ahead.”

Vic Fedeli, Ontario Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, announcing a $100 million contribution by the province to the Venture Ontario Fund, June 2021

Recent Projects: Toyota, Amazon, Novocol Pharmaceutical, Westinghouse, Arctic Wolf Networks, Ontario Cannabis Retail Corp.

Among other initiatives, the Ontario Small Business Support Grant has delivered nearly $3 billion in urgent and unprecedented support to over 110,000 small businesses across the province. Ontario is investing more than C$100 million over four years through the Regional Development Program, which provides cost-shared funding to businesses, municipalities and economic development organizations to help local communities attract investment, diversify their economies, and plan for long-term sustainability and growth. The provincial government also is temporarily enhancing the Regional Opportunities Investment Tax Credit by investing C$61 million, resulting in total tax credit support of about C$155 million by 2022-23. Ontario’s COVID-19 action plan now totals C$51 billion in health and economic support.

Ontario’s Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN) and Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation are working with the Michigan Office of Future Mobility and Electrification to explore the implementation of a cross-border multi-modal testbed. Combined, Ontario and Michigan are responsible for about 22% of North America’s automotive output. The province also is investing more than C$109 million in Telesat’s C$6.5 billion next-generation Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite Network, Telesat Lightspeed, the largest space program ever undertaken in Canada, which will bring high-speed bandwidth to locations across the province. Ontario contributed $1.2 billion of a total $2.7 billion in venture capital invested during Q1 2021, according to the Canadian Venture Capital & Private Equity Association.

Invest Alberta
Greg Baker, Interim CEO and VP International Markets

Recent Projects: Air Products Canada, Infosys, Labatt, Fountain Tire, The Meatless Farm, Conestoga Cold Storage

As in Ontario, the Alberta provincial government has established a new Crown Corporation, Invest Alberta, “dedicated to investment attraction, with a mandate to engage the world and provide high end tailored support to investors and major new investment projects.” Its catchy slogan? “Alberta.Can.”

Among recent initiatives from the Alberta Ministry of Jobs, Economy and Innovation (led by Minister Doug Schweitzer), Alberta’s film industry is attracting more productions and opportunities with the Film and Television Tax Credit. A $75-million Investment and Growth Strategy will guide actions targeting investment growth in priority sectors that both drive and enable Alberta’s economy, including energy; agriculture and forestry; tourism; culture; technology; aviation, aerospace and logistics; finance and fintech; and emerging sector opportunities such as pharmaceuticals based on the province’s expertise in ag and biotech, and positioning the province as a global transit and cargo hub.

An Innovation Capital Working Group recently submitted its final report to government with options on how to attract new investment in Alberta’s early-stage technology companies. And a 10-year tourism strategy is being developed in partnership with Travel Alberta to grow Alberta’s tourism sector.


Invest Brampton (Ontario)

Clare Barnett
Director of Economic Development

“Brampton is a Green City, and together with our partners, we are dedicated to building an increasingly sustainable community and increasing our resilience to climate change.”

—Patrick Brown, Brampton Mayor June 2021, on the announcement of Alectra Utilities’ plans for a 400-job LEED-Gold-certified operations center

Recent Projects: Alectra, Canadian Tire, Maple Leaf Foods

Brampton this year has conducted virtual missions to Japan and Germany. The city’s food & beverage sector contributes $1.3 billion annually to Canadian GDP and employs 8,500. Other target sectors are innovation and technology; advanced manufacturing; and health and life sciences. The city’s visioning document for 2040, Living the Mosaic, included comments and ideas contributed from about 11,000 individuals. Among its 10 envisioned transformations are the development of five new town centers; new transit, trail and network connectivity; growth of Arts Street as a “unique maker-place”; and a new eco-park.

Advantage Brantford (Ontario)

Kevin Finney, Director, Economic Development and Tourism

“Heritage Hockey Sticks has been making sticks for elite Canadian and American hockey brands and players for more than 100 years, and given our city’s deep roots in hockey, I think Brantford is a perfect fit for their new facility. Named the tournament capital of Ontario for very good reason, Brantford has a long tradition of sporting excellence …”

Kevin Davis, Brantford Mayor on the relocation of Heritage Hockey Sticks’ manufacturing operation from Cambridge to Brantford, which brings with it a $2 million investment and 100 jobs

Recent Projects: Hershey, Upfield Canada, Roustan Sports

In February 2021, Rogers Communications announced the expansion of its 5G service to 10 new Canadian cities and towns, including Brantford. It also announced its participation in Communitech’s Future of Cities collaborative to develop 5G smart city solutions of the future for Brampton and Waterloo. The city’s Economic Development and Tourism Department welcomed 10 productions to the City of Brantford in 2020 — a new record for the city, despite a three-month provincial shut down of the industry from mid-March to mid-June. Six Nations Polytechnic, located in Canada’s most populous First Nation and home to trades training resources and the SNP STEAM Academy, came into full ownership of its Brantford campus facilities this past summer.

Calgary Economic Development

Brad Parry, Interim CEO

“We have all the building blocks to build a global tech hub here in Calgary: strong post-secondaries, piles of investment, great diverse talent, and the fact that Calgary continues to be listed as one of the best places to live in the world.”

Denise Man, Chief Technology Officer, ATB Financial

Recent Projects: UPS, Teledyne, 3M Canada

Calgary is home to the highest head office concentration per capita in all of Canada. Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) announced plans in July to create 300 technology roles at a new Calgary Innovation Hub scheduled to launch in September. In the overall Top 50 rankings for tech talent in CBRE’s Scoring Tech Talent report released in July, Calgary rose six spots to No. 28 due to incremental scoring gains related to growth of tech-degree graduates and projected tech job growth. Helping that score rise further will be a new school of advanced digital technology to be established there thanks to a $30 million gift from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT).

Edmonton Global

Malcolm Bruce, CEO

“We are proud to expand our presence in this dynamic region, where we have found a vision for decarbonization that mirrors our core values … By being a first mover and investing in this innovative landmark project, we are paving the way for hydrogen from Edmonton to meet industrial and transportation needs throughout western Canada.”

Seifi Ghasemi, Air Products Chairman, President and CEO, on the company’s $1.3 billion net-zero hydrogen production and liquefaction facility expected onstream in 2024

Recent Projects: Amazon, Fountain Tire, Air Products, Canadian Rockies Hemp, Labatt

Data from the CBRE Scoring Tech Talent report show Edmonton has the fastest growing tech ecosystem of any of the 50 North American cities studied, based on total tech employment. The average growth rate across the 50 cities CBRE looked at was 17.6% between 2015 and 2020, while the Edmonton Region saw a growth rate of 53.3% over the same period. According to the most recent data from Statistics Canada, Edmonton is the third youngest metro region in Canada, with an average age of 38.4 vs. the Canadian average of 41.2. A total of 68% of the population is of working age. “According to Engineers Canada, Alberta has by far the largest number of engineers per capita, with 8.9 engineers per 1,000 people,” reports Edmonton Global Director of Research & Business Intelligence Jeff Bell. “Edmonton has 14 engineers per 1,000 people.”

Halifax Partnership

Wendy Luther, President & CEO

“We chose Halifax because we want to build on the city’s emerging national and international tech hub. The high-quality technology professionals and the post-secondary institutions developing them are already among Canada’s best.”

Adam Belsher, CEO of Waterloo-based digital investigation software company Magnet Forensics, announcing in July 2021 his intent to expand in Halifax

Recent Projects: Northbay Solutions, Humetis Technologies, Novonix, CPQi

Halifax ranked No. 7 among CBRE’s Top Emerging North American Tech Markets in its 2021 Scoring Tech Talent report issued in July. With total tech talent of 14,700, the area has experienced five-year growth of 24%. Key sectors include IT, gaming & digital media; financial services; and life sciences, in addition to traditional industries in the maritime and logistics sectors. Among the nearly 100 qualifying corporate facility projects Site Selection’s Conway Projects Database has tracked across the four provinces of Atlantic Canada since January 2019, one-fifth have landed in Greater Halifax. The 10th edition of the Halifax Index reports that Halifax added more than 9,000 new residents in 2020, making it the second-fastest growing city in the country. Over 60% of newcomers were under 30 years of age. The report also found that Halifax had a total of 289 startups operating in 2020 with a combined annual revenue growth of 67%.

Invest in Hamilton (Ontario)

Norm Schleehahn, Director, Economic Development

“People want to live in Hamilton. They’re developing down by the piers. There are things to do with your family, and a lot of leaders and visionaries have come here … It’s because people see it as a diamond — not a diamond in the rough.”

Joe Camillo, founder of ReggataSport and Niko Apparel Systems, Site Selection magazine, March 2021

Recent Projects: Bridgestone, Gowling, Westinghouse, Nordik Windows

A January 2021 presentation to city council featured a slide listing 15 projects under construction and showed that the city’s economic development team had surpassed their stretch target of 7 million sq. ft. of new commercial real estate between 2016 and 2020, which was more than double the 3 million sq. ft. achieved between 2011 and 2015. McMaster University is partnering with McMaster Innovation Park (MIP) to launch The Global Nexus for Pandemics and Biological Threats, an international network of scientists, clinical health and medical specialists, engineers, social scientists, history and policy researchers, economics and business experts. The Government of Canada announced in July it would invest $400 million to support ArcelorMittal Dofasco’s investment of more than $1.7 billion to convert the steel production process and phase out coal-fired steelmaking in Hamilton.

DEL - Développement économique de l'agglomération de Longueuil (Québec)

Julie Ethier, Executive Director

“The year 2020 will have left its mark on the physical, mental and economic health of our citizens and our businesses. Fortunately, our SMEs have been able to count on the unwavering and qualified support of DEL, which has demonstrated, more than ever, its leadership and agility by being present from the start of the crisis.”

Sylvie Parent, Mayor of Longueuil (translated from the French)

Recent Projects: Molson Coors, Xnergy, Memtronik, Isaac Instruments

DEL during 2020 extended support for 1,179 distinct businesses, a figure breaking all records, compared to an average of 450 SMEs supported in the last two years, according to the organization’s annual report. The organization shepherded a total of $242 million in investmnts and the creation or retention of 3,058 jobs, including the attraction of eight new organizations. Among other highlights were the debut of Digifab QG, a center of expertise in digital transformation; the participation of nearly 2,000 in various webinars and training events; and the filing of a business plan for the creation of an industrial digital intelligence innovation zone. The Agglomération de Longueuil is located just south of the island of Montreal, next to the St. Lawrence River, and is the fourth largest urban agglomeration in Quebec. Part of Monteregie, Quebec’s second most populated region with 1.5 million residents, the area comprises five cities: Boucherville, Brossard, Longueuil, Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville and Saint-Lambert.

City of Mississauga Economic Development Office (Ontario)

Bonnie Brown, Director

“The high level of talent here is well regarded throughout Citi's global network, as evidenced by our recent growth in technology roles that support our operations around the world.”

Citibank Canada CEO John Hastings, May 2021, on the news that Citi would add 60 new jobs to its Mississauga team of 2,000 as part of making the site a strategic hub for its North American Internal Audit organization

Recent Projects: Roche, Pepsico, GE, McKesson

“With over 470 life sciences companies employing more than 25,000 people, Mississauga would be an ideal spot for Moderna to deliver on their promise of building transformative mRNA science,” said Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie in an August 2021 press release following the news that the Government of Canada had announced a memorandum of understanding with Moderna to build a new plant in Canada. In May the national government made a $200 million investment in Resilience Biotechnologies in order to expand its vaccine manufacturing capacity in Mississauga. Mississauga represents a 27% share of Ontario’s total life sciences employment, and Support for new life sciences investments over the past four years represents over $1.3 million in new and retained annual tax assessment and $173 million in direct GDP.

City of Moncton (New Brunswick)

Kevin Silliker, Director, Economic Development

“We’ve done extensive research, and working with Richard Dunn of Moncton’s Economic Development Office, we chose Moncton due to its thriving business community and also its centralized location as a hub where we are able to serve Saint John, Fredericton, Charlottetown, Amherst, Truro, and the surrounding markets.”

Drew Dekker, founder and COO of web development firm NetGain SEO, on the July 2021 decision to expand to Moncton

Recent Projects: Walmart, Jessem Products, TD Life, ARS Canada Rolling Stock

The City of Moncton set a building permit record in 2020 with a total of $270 million in projects approved, including 452 new residential units downtown. The city’s population grew by 2% between July 1, 2019, and June 30, 2020, and the city’s immigration job fairs have resulted in more than 400 hires/positions filled by 100 participating employers and more than $16 million in payroll achieved. “Industrial Park land sales have also performed extremely well under Moncton Industrial Development,” says Economic Development Director Kevin Silliker, “including a new 221,000-square-foot Walmart Canada distribution center.” Key target sectors for the region include financial and insurance services, BPO, advanced manufacturing, transportation and ICT. The Conference Board of Canada projects that growth will stay steady at 1.9% through 2024.

Montréal International (Québec)

Stéphane Paquet, President and CEO

“Montréal is a haven for game development. It is strategically located to better serve North America and is in close proximity to Europe. It possesses a world-class, highly sought-after community of uber-talented studios, developers and creatives and we are excited to be a part of this thriving community.”

Matthew Zoern, GM and Executive Producer, Room 8 Studio Canada, June 2021, on the company’s choice of the city as its first in a series of studios it plans to open in gaming hubs around the world

Recent Projects: Novartis,, Lion Electric, Amazon Games Studios, Daher Aerospace

Greater Montréal’s project momentum is among the strongest of any region in Canada. Among the 20 major cities in Canada and the U.S., Montréal achieved the best recovery rate for job losses since the start of the pandemic, with Montréal International supporting more than $2.2 billion in FDI during 2020. Among the region’s goals is to attract talent to fill the expected 2,000 job opportunities coming in the next two years in the video game industry. The agency’s team of 80 also led 12 recruitment missions (seven of them virtual) and supported the hiring of 772 skilled foreign workers, including 237 nurses needed at healthcare facilities. MI’s team also met over 7,800 international students in 2020, mostly online, in an effort to entice them to study or live in Montréal.

Niagara Economic Development

George Spezza, Director, Economic Development

“Niagara has given us a good pool of talent to pull from. We have access to all the shipping lanes. We’re close to enough major airports that it’s easy for us to be connected to the globe. Operational costs, and cost to expand, is easier in Niagara than it is in the GTA … so we’re absolutely committed to staying in the community.”

Justin Larsen, Director of Marketing and Product Innovation, Abatement Technologies, on the company’s decision to invest in a new manufacturing and head office site

Recent Projects: Modest Tree Media, GM, Quick Plug, Clean Works Medical

With over $100 billion worth of trade making its way through the region each year, Niagara was Ontario’s first designated Foreign Trade Zone. Niagara Economic Development’s mandate is to promote Niagara on a global scale and to work in partnership with the region’s 12 municipalities to encourage investment in and travel to the region, along with business support services to attract, maintain and increase jobs in Niagara. The region claims a population of 450,000, with 1.86 million people within a 50-km. commuting radius. The region’s two post-secondary institutions, Brock University and Niagara College, are among its five largest employers. Key sectors are agribusiness, manufacturing, tourism and emerging sectors such as computer systems design, architecture and engineering. Since 2011, the region has seen 81% job growth in the ICT sector.

Invest Oakville (Ontario)

Dorothy St. George, Director, Economic Development & Corporate Strategy

“By introducing battery electric vehicle production at Oakville Assembly Complex, we are cementing our Canadian operations as a leader in advanced automotive manufacturing.”

Dean Stoneley, President and CEO, Ford of Canada, announcing a $1.8 billion investment in Oakville in September 2020

Recent Projects: BDO Canada; Grundfos Canada; Samuel, Son & Co.; Virox Technologies

One project stuck out above all others in 2020: Ford Motor Company of Canada announced an investment of $1.8-billion to retool the Oakville Assembly Complex from internal combustion to battery electric vehicle manufacturing. “This historic investment received matched funding contributions of $295-million from both the federal and provincial governments, and will create a global hub for battery electric vehicle production, the first of its kind in Canada,” Invest Oakville stated in its 2020 annual report. Among other activities, Invest Oakville hosted a virtual Ontario Auto Mayors meeting in November 2020 with over 100 participants, including Premier Doug Ford, with a focus on EVs. Commercial construction values totaled $105.7 million in 2020, an increase from $90.5 million in 2019. Industrial construction was down significantly to $23.5 million, but the industrial market remains in high demand, with a 2020 vacancy rate of 2.4% in Q4 2020. In addition to numerous expansions by existing companies, the area welcomed 10 new employers as well, creating a total of approximately 1,000 new jobs.

Invest Ottawa

Michael Tremblay, President and CEO

“Entrepreneurship is not a linear journey. Our aim is to support Ottawa’s startup founders throughout their journey, and these changes will enable us to ride shotgun for founders whenever they need us along the way.”

Nick Quain, Invest Ottawa’s Vice President of Venture Development, announcing in June 2021 updates to the agency’s IO Venture Path portfolio of programs, which since 2018 have supported 711 Ottawa startups and scaleups, leading to more than 2,200 knowledge-based jobs created

Recent Projects: Drive Products, RBR Ltd.

CBRE’s 2021 Scoring Tech Talent report found that among the areas with the most tech talent concentration, Ottawa is No. 1 in North America at 11.6% of total employment. Thanks to a $42.5 million investment through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) in the Digital Main Street (DMS) platform, small- and medium-sized enterprises received support to build an online business and generate new revenue. Since July 2020, Invest Ottawa and Launch Lab have delivered the DMS Future Proof Program in Ottawa and Southeastern Ontario, supporting more than 1,700 businesses spanning hospitality, retail, trades, and services; and hiring more than 300 students and new graduates to help deliver the program Though closed until further notice due to COVID-19, Area X.O is what Invest Ottawa calls the “futureplex of innovation and collaboration,” offering a safe and secure environment to create, test and demonstrate future mobility, autonomy and connected technologies.

call of duty

Thomas Wilson and Nour Polloni are Co-Studio Heads at Beenox, the video game company known for its “Call of Duty” franchise that was founded in Québec City and is adding 100 more positions in 2021.
Photo courtesy of CNW Group/Québec International


Québec International

Carl Viel, President & CEO

“Since its launch in March 2020, ‘Call of Duty: Warzone’ fans everywhere have enjoyed the incredible gameplay and experiences. With more than 85 million players, we couldn't be more excited to continue to work closely with all of the other ‘Call of Duty’ teams to bring amazing new content to come.”

Thomas Wilson, Co-Studio Head, Beenox, speaking in December 2020 about the Québec–based company’s plans to add 100 new jobs in the coming year

Recent Projects: CorActive High-Tech, Vigneault Chocolatier Ltée, Simard Suspensions

When the tech markets analyzed by CBRE were analyzed by the ratio of a market’s average annual apartment rent as a percentage of its average tech wage, Québec City was the least expensive at 12.3%. New York was more than twice that at 26.3%. Photons Canada, the Canadian Photonic Industry Consortium (CPIC) Inc., in July was one of seven projects nationwide to receive funding from Next Generation Manufacturing Canada (NGen), the industry-led organization leading Canada’s Advanced Manufacturing Supercluster. Though the Québec City region’s population only grew by 0.9% from the previous year’s total to 832,328 in 2020, the Institut de la statistique du Québec says the population is expected to grow by 12% to 897,400 between 2016 and 2041 (+93,000 people). The Canadian government revealed in July plans to launch a high-frequency train on a new track system linking Québec City, Montréal and Toronto.

Economic Development Regina (Saskatchewan)

John D. Lee, President & CEO

“Together with our partners, we now have the venture capital, the research commercialization potential and the labor force pathways into agricultural innovation right here in the Greater Regina Area. To date, no other jurisdiction can offer that.”

Economic Development Regina Chief Economic Growth Officer Tina Beaudry-Mellor, speaking in June 2021 about the area’s Agtech Accelerator’s new partnerships with The University of Saskatchewan, The University of Regina and Saskatchewan Polytechnic

Recent Projects: Cargill, Viterra, Red Leaf Pulp

Regina’s average year-to-date total employment was up 6.2%, with 7,986 positions added in July 2021 over the same period in 2020. This has almost completely erased the loss of 8,500 jobs experienced in 2020. “In fact, Regina’s employment gains accounted for more than half of total provincial employment gains,” said an Economic Development Regina update. Red Leaf Pulp Ltd. in June 2021 announced its intention to build Canada’s first non-wood pulp mill in Regina, generating $350 million in economic impact and creating 110 full-time jobs. The decision comes on the heals of announcements that both Viterra and Cargill plan to open canola crushing plants in the region, making Regina a global hub for canola processing. In addition to the three schools noted above, Regina is home to First Nations University of Canada (FNUC), the only university-level institution in North America developed by First Nations and Indigenous people, which is developing into an international center for excellence for Aboriginal education. “We are proud to be located on Treaty Four Territory,” an Economic Development Regina post read in July. “We know that working toward economic reconciliation is more important than ever. And we acknowledge and understand that Indigenous Peoples will play a critical role in Regina’s economic future.

Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership (Ontario)

Stephen Thompson, Chief Executive Officer

“We are pleased to be establishing our first Canadian manufacturing location in Sarnia. The Sarnia-Lambton area’s highly skilled workforce, coupled with excellent proximity to major markets makes it an ideal location to manufacture commercial transport trailers for our Canadian customers.”

CIMC Plant Manager Andy Wang, October 2020, on the company’s new $5 million, 90-job investment

Recent Projects: CIMC Refrigerated Trailer, Imperial Oil, Twin Creeks Greenhouse, Imtex Membranes

The Canadian government in April announced Sarnia–Lambton’s official designation as a Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) Point — a single point of access to resources and information relating to programs that relieve duties, tariffs and taxes for businesses engaged in importing and exporting. The designation will allow Sarnia–Lambton to market themselves as a hub for international trade and to provide coordinated access to government FTZ programs. Sarnia-Lambton Site Selector, a new online system launched in March 2021 and found at, provides maps and comprehensive detail about buildings and land available for commercial or industrial use.

Sherbrooke Innopole (Québec)

Sylvain Durocher, Executive Director

“I congratulate everyone involved in building our new Sherbrooke Plant. Considering the circumstances of the pandemic, it was an incredible feat to complete this massive project on time and on budget. It makes me very proud to be part of this organization and to be surrounded by dedicated and resourceful people who thrive on innovation and are committed to excellence.”

Dino Bianco, CEO of Kruger Products, at the February startup of a new plant creating 180 new jobs that was supported in part by a $105 million loan from Invest Québec

Recent Projects: Eidos-Sherbrooke, Immune Biosolutions, Tekna, Attitude

Despite the pandemic, Sherbrooke Innopole’s annual report showed that companies in the region’s industrial and high-value-added services sector came through with record investments for a fourth straight year, totaling nearly $671 million. Key sectors in Sherbrooke — home to the University of Sherbrooke — are led by life sciences, but also include cleantech, micro-nanotechnologies, ICT and advanced manufacturing. Sherbrooke Innopole’s team in 2020 initiated or collaborated on 323 growth-generating projects, 240 of which were completed during the year. “Investments associated with R&D and productivity have been particularly high during this pandemic year,” said Alexandre Nault, president of Sherbrooke Innopole’s board of directors. “This shows that our companies continued to pursue innovation and have not lost sight of the digital shift, despite having to navigate through the COVID-19 fog.”

Toronto Global

Stephen Lund, CEO

“While we were exploring a North American expansion, a few parameters which helped us in this decision were the region’s availability of talent, cost of operations, the access to key markets and ease of conducting business here.”

Kundan Shekhawat, President and CEO, Ascent, on the New York City-based SaaS firm’s decision to enter the Canadian market with a sales and delivery HQ to serve all of North America, April 2021

Recent Projects: Sanofi, Amazon (multiple), Cerebras Systems, Walmart Canada (Vaughan), Doordash, Cologix (Markham)

In the spring of 2021, the Toronto Region Board of Trade partnered with Toronto Global and the City of Toronto to hold a series of sector roundtables with leaders from across the region to develop sector-specific responses to accelerate recovery. In a March column sparked by HCL’s announcement of 2,000 new tech jobs in Canada (including 500 in Mississauga), Toronto Global CEO Stephen Lund wrote, “This announcement is a shot in the arm and an expression of confidence in the talent that our region and country can offer. Talent is what it is all about, and that’s where we lead.” Chris Vanexan of CBRE’s Toronto office says social media, driverless cars and AI firms are driving demand in Toronto’s downtown core office market. The Toronto region is home to 38% of Canada’s business headquarters, the third-largest tech sector in North America and the second largest financial center in North America. Nearly 100,000 new immigrants arrive annually, part of a diverse population that is over 51% foreign-born.

Vancouver Economic Commission

Eleena Marley, CEO

“PNI’s new lease solidifies the False Creek Flats area of Vancouver as a growing biotech and health science hub. We’re excited to welcome PNI to Evolution Block, a pioneering stacked industrial development that will help transform one of the city’s oldest industrial neighborhoods into its reimagined future.”

Brent Sawchyn, CEO, PC Urban Properties, on Precision NanoSystems August 2021 announcement of its HQ expansion in Vancouver, which will also house a new genetic medicine GMP Biomanufacturing Center

Recent Projects: Precision NanoSystems, RSM Canada Ltd., Amazon, Big Mountain Foods, Walmart Canada (Surrey) Samsung Electronics (Delta)

VEC’s June economy report said total employment in Metro Vancouver continues to increase (up 4,900 from April 2021, or 0.3%). Opening businesses increased by 21% between February 2020 and February 2021. The report also highlighted the importance of the region’s life sciences sector, supported by a dynamic post-secondary system and the doubling of venture capital in Canada. “The emergence of two significant life sciences hubs within our city — the AbCellera campus, a city block-sized HQ and biotech lab space, and the new $2 billion St. Paul’s Hospital development creating an 18-acre hospital and health campus — will further enhance the conditions for IP development, commercialization, and the thriving of new startups and scaleups,” the report stated. Startup Genome rates metro Vancouver the No. 1 startup ecosystem in Canada. A VEC report released in February 2021 says the region could tap its strengths in entertainment, tech and sporting events to become a global esports hub, in a sector expected to double revenues to $2.2 billion in the next four years.

MasterClass is establishing a new engineering hub in Waterloo, Ontario.
Photo courtesy of MasterClass

MasterClass is establishing a new engineering hub in Waterloo, Ontario.
Photo courtesy of MasterClass


Waterloo EDC

Tony LaMantia, President & CEO

“I've had great experiences working with Waterloo-based technical teams and am excited to partner with Canada's thriving and collaborative tech community to support this expansion.”

Paul Bankhead, chief product officer of streaming platform MasterClass, at the company’s June 2021 announcement of a new engineering hub in Waterloo that will be on a peer level with the company HQ’s engineering hub in San Francisco

Recent Projects: Whitzel Dyce Engineering, Allianz Global Assistance, Novocol Pharmaceutical, Tigercat Industries, FinVentures

CBRE tabbed Waterloo as the No. 1 small tech talent market in North America. It also examined real estate costs and wages across North America’s top 50 tech markets and found the most expensive market in the top 50 for a 500-person tech company leasing 75,000 sq. ft. is the San Francisco Bay Area at nearly $69 million a year. The least expensive in the top 50 is the Waterloo region in Ontario, Canada, at $31.4 million a year. The University of Waterloo ranks No. 1 in computer science and engineering in Canada, and makes the QS World University Rankings’ Top 25 for computer science. According to Waterloo EDC’s Q2 2021 report, “At the halfway point of 2021, Waterloo EDC has set a new organizational record for value of closed deals – $320 million. Even with the large number of closed deals, our sales pipeline continued to grow – it now includes 97 potential investments worth more than $2.1 billion.”

Economic Development Winnipeg

Dayna Spiring, President & CEO

Recent Projects: Amazon, Fedex Ground, Big Sky Studios

EDW’s 2020 annual report noted five successful projects bringing in $34 million of investment and more than 300 jobs in 2020, capping a five-year YES! Winnipeg campaign that totaled 28 projects that invested nearly $309 million and created 9,637 jobs. Overall, the team’s outreach supported 475 businesses. And even though travel was curtailed, by the end of the year the team had worked with 30 FDI leads. One of the region’s target sectors — — is seeing promise in the exploding plant protein and plant-based product category: Merit Functional Foods is moving into a new processing facility at Centreport Canada, the tri-modal inland port on the edge of Winnipeg in Rosser. Co-CEO Ryan Bracken told EDW his company chose the Winnipeg region to grow its operation because of the city and region’s capacity to support its utility requirements and access to skilled labor and responsive government. “Our founders also happen to be Manitobans and proud to support their local economy,” said Bracken last year. “All of this is creating a lot of job opportunities for the people in Western Canada.

Adam Bruns
Editor in Chief of Site Selection magazine

Adam Bruns

Adam Bruns is editor in chief and head of publications for Site Selection, and before that has served as managing editor beginning in February 2002. In the course of reporting hundreds of stories for Site Selection, Adam has visited companies and communities around the globe. A St. Louis native who grew up in the Kansas City suburbs, Adam is a 1986 alumnus of Knox College, and resided in Chicago; Midcoast Maine; Savannah, Georgia; and Lexington, Kentucky, before settling in the Greater Atlanta community of Peachtree Corners, where he lives with his wife and daughter.


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