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Several Ontario cities were once again featured prominently in the 2017/2018 American Cities of the Future report. FDi, a division of Financial Times Limited, ranked 421 locations across North and South America in five categories: economic potential, business friendliness, human capital and lifestyle, cost-effectiveness and connectivity.
This year, Canadian cities, many in Ontario, dominated the business friendliness category, proving that the province has many opportunities for new and established businesses.
The Ontario cities named in the 2017/2018 report across all categories include Toronto, Mississauga, Ottawa, Brampton, London, Hamilton, Oakville, Markham, Guelph, Waterloo, Cambridge, Windsor, Burlington, Niagara Falls, Brantford, Sarnia, Sudbury, Chatham-Kent, Kingston and Pickering.
In the major cities category, Toronto lands the fourth spot overall, ahead of Atlanta, Miami and Boston, and has earned several other accolades, including third in economic potential and business friendliness, and 10th in human capital and lifestyle.
The City of Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area are the financial and business centres of Canada, generating more than $310 billion annually, which accounts for about 19% of Canada's GDP. Thirty-five per cent of the largest 800 corporations in Canada are headquartered in the region, of which two-thirds are in the city of Toronto. The region offers many advantages, including low corporate taxes, a diverse economy and a skilled workforce.
Toronto is a city of great economic potential and our talented, highly educated and multicultural workforce makes it an ideal city for business investment. We look forward to doing business with you.
– John Tory, Mayor of Toronto
With its knowledge-rich talent pool and a focus on growing such business sectors as cleantech, advanced manufacturing, life sciences, finance, IT and communications technologies, it's no surprise that Mississauga takes the top spot overall as the "Mid-sized American City of the Future", and is also recognized as the most business-friendly city. Mississauga also placed fifth in connectivity and ninth in economic potential.
Mississauga has a surplus of talented, skilled and educated human capital, and is home to world-class post-secondary institutions, including the University of Toronto Mississauga and Sheridan College's Pilon School of Business. We are strategically located in the heart of the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, connected by an extensive network of highways, railways and Canada's largest airport, Toronto Pearson International Airport.
– Bonnie Crombie, Mayor of Mississauga
Ottawa is quickly establishing itself as one of the top hubs for technology innovation in North America, with more than 1,750 tech companies calling the nation's capital home. Recently named the least expensive Canadian city by the Mercer cost of living index and as the top Canadian tech hub to live and work in by Expert Market, Ottawa also offers a diverse economy and an unsurpassed education system. The 2017/2018 FDi report lists Ottawa seventh in business friendliness in the large city category.
Our knowledge-based industry is thriving, with more than 1,750 technology companies here employing over 68,000 people. Our high rankings stand testament to our continuing efforts to create and foster a business ecosystem that gives investors every reason to choose Ottawa.
– Jim Watson, Mayor of Ottawa
Brampton is Canada's ninth-largest city. It has a diverse population, state-of-the-art recreation facilities and prospering industries supported by a growing transit network. For these reasons and more, the city has landed the 10th spot as a City of the Future in the mid-sized city category. Additionally, Brampton placed second in business friendliness and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) strategy, while ranking among the top 10 for connectivity.
Brampton is taking a prominent place as a major urban centre and as an emerging innovation hub along the Innovation Super Corridor between Waterloo and downtown Toronto. We're proud of our rankings and look forward to doing even better in the years to come. New developments and expansion only give more reasons for businesses to invest in our city. We are disrupting the status quo in Brampton and providing businesses with the tools necessary to compete in the global market.
– Linda Jeffrey, Mayor of Brampton
Situated halfway between Toronto and Detroit, London is a regional hub for distribution and home to more than 20,000 businesses across a wide variety of sectors, including advanced manufacturing, food and beverage processing, life sciences and digital creative sectors. Industry leaders located in London include 3M Canada, Trojan Technologies, London Life and General Dynamics Land Systems.
London offers many advantages for businesses that set up shop in the 11th largest city in Canada. These benefits include access to a vast pool of skilled labour, more than 150 million consumers within a one-day drive, 14 original equipment manufacturer (OEM) facilities within a two-hour trucking distance, raw materials from surrounding farms, and a very affordable cost of living. The city also offers unparalleled access to world-class research at Western University, Fanshawe College and the newly established Fraunhofer Project Centre. With these advantages, it's no surprise that London has secured the sixth spot as the most business-friendly city in the mid-sized category.
London has a rich and storied history in medical innovation and advanced manufacturing. That, coupled with our thriving digital creative sector, low cost of living and ideal location along the 401 corridor make the Forest City a welcoming place for start-ups and established businesses alike. We are a mid-sized city with large-scale amenities and opportunities, we have outstanding supports for entrepreneurs and a skilled workforce. We are evolving as a leader in research and development with our world-class post-secondary institutions and look forward to further growing as a development and business community.
– Matt Brown, Mayor of London
The ninth-largest regional economy in Canada, Hamilton is uniquely positioned as a transportation hub for the goods movement industry. The city is home to the Port of Hamilton, the John C. Munro International Airport, and offers close proximity to national rail lines and easy access to the 400 Series of highways, as well as multiple international border crossings. Hamilton is also known for fostering innovation. It is home to McMaster University, one of Canada's leading research institutions for health sciences and engineering, as well as the McMaster Innovation Park, a premier research park that offers a collaborative space for researchers and entrepreneurs to connect and commercialize.
In the 2017/2018 FDi report, Hamilton ranks eighth overall for mid-sized cities. It also lands the sixth spot in connectivity and the fourth spot in business friendliness.
Hamilton has welcomed billions of dollars in economic activity and investment over the past several years, and with shovel-ready employment and development lands, a newly announced LRT line and a waterfront poised for new development, the pieces are in place for many more years of significant growth.
– Fred Eisenberger, Mayor of Hamilton
Oakville has earned the fifth spot for business friendliness in the small city category. The town, located in the heart of the Greater Toronto Area, is one of the best places in Canada to start or grow a business thanks to its thriving knowledge economy and unparalleled lifestyle. It boasts a prime location with quick access to regional, national and international markets; competitive tax rates; and a highly skilled workforce that is one of the most educated in Canada. Oakville is home to many industry leaders, including Ford Motor Company of Canada, PwC Canada and Siemens Canada, and continues to attract companies in key sectors, such as life sciences, professional and financial services, digital media, film and advanced manufacturing.
In Oakville, our focus on livability has resulted in a strong, prosperous and energized local economy. By building a community where people want to live, work and play, we attract global leaders in forward-thinking, innovative industries.
– Rob Burton, Mayor of Oakville
Markham is Canada's most culturally diverse city and one of the fastest-growing cities in the Greater Toronto Area. Recognized as Canada's High-Tech Capital, the city is home to more than 1,000 high-tech and life sciences companies. Industry leaders with Canadian head offices in Markham include IBM, Lenovo, Nokia, Huawei, Toshiba Medical, Hyundai and Honda. Thanks to its rich heritage, high-quality infrastructure, talented workforce and pro-business environment, the city continues to attract globally competitive organizations in the IT, banking, finance, engineering, design, technical and commercialization services sectors. With these advantages, it's no surprise that Markham has landed the seventh spot as one of the most business-friendly cities in the small city category in FDi's 2017/2018 report.
We are thrilled to welcome major new investments by prestigious global companies, including the recently announced General Motors R&D Centre and the new headquarters of Aviva Insurance. Markham is proud of its corporate success and its fiscal leadership among municipalities in Canada.
– Frank Scarpitti, Mayor of Markham
The 2017/2018 FDi report recognizes Guelph in several categories. It is the only Canadian city to rank among the top 10 overall in the small city category, joined by such cities as Irvine, Calif., Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Stamford, Conn. Guelph also placed fourth in human capital and lifestyle, and eighth for business friendliness. Recognized for its diverse and stable economy, proximity to consumer markets, world-class education and skilled labour, Guelph continues to attract companies involved in advanced manufacturing, agri-food, environmental technologies, IT and tourism. Leading companies that call the city home include Linamar Corporation, the Co-operators, Canadian Solar, Cargill Canada, Syngenta Canada, the Guelph Manufacturing Group and Blount Canada.
Guelph ticks all the right boxes: a great location; an outstanding university and college; a skilled labour pool; and a supportive business environment. We're also one of Canada's safest and most liveable cities. It's no wonder we've been called "the little city that could!"
– Cam Guthrie, Mayor of Guelph
Waterloo ranks seventh in economic potential in the small cities category — the only Canadian city to make the top 10 in this category — and ninth for business friendliness. As one of the world's top intelligent communities, Waterloo boasts a knowledge economy that is globally recognized. It is home to major employers, global think tanks, leading finance and insurance companies, and world-renowned post-secondary institutions. Located in the heart of Canada's Technology Triangle, the City of Waterloo has a diversified economy, innovative spirit and skilled workforce.
As Canada's education city, the City of Waterloo is a community with an abundance of creative and motivated talent. We are driven by a thirst for discovery and powered by a strong sense of entrepreneurship. A vibrant arts and culture scene, safe and engaged neighbourhoods and outstanding recreation facilities enable and encourage an active lifestyle, making Waterloo a thriving and welcoming city that is poised for even greater success.
– Dave Jaworsky, Mayor of Waterloo
As a part of the Toronto-Waterloo Innovation Corridor, and within an hour drive of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), Cambridge is a great place to do business. The latest FDi report thinks so, too. At sixth place (up three positions from the 2015/2016 report), Cambridge joins Chattanooga, Tennessee and Plano, Texas as one of the 10 most business-friendly cities in the small city category. Not only is it a North American transportation hub, but the city has access to a hotbed of highly skilled talent, attracting businesses large and small to its diverse local economy. It is home to Toyota Canada, Rimowa's North American headquarters, and a thriving food-manufacturing sector that benefits from an internationally recognized Institute of Food Processing Technology at Conestoga College.
Cambridge's strategic location, skilled workforce and high quality of life make it the ideal city for relocating or expanding your business. In the heart of Canada's innovation corridor, Cambridge offers a diverse economy, ready to meet today's business needs.
– Mayor Doug Craig, City of Cambridge
The Windsor-Essex region enjoys an exceptional central location with access to half of North America's population within an eight-hour drive. With its prime location, great economic prospects and highly skilled workforce, Windsor tops the list as the most business-friendly city in the small city category, according to FDi.
Windsor's FedEx-anchored cargo hub and Institute for Border Logistics and Security assists small and medium-sized companies to develop, test and implement technology for supply chain operations. The city also benefits from its transportation and logistics strengths, agri-business, advanced manufacturing sectors and a life sciences hub. With its many business incentives and employment services, Windsor is a great place for companies to operate and grow.
The Windsor-Essex region is widely recognized as a pre-eminent location for making, growing and moving goods. Our region will continue to play to its strengths in advanced manufacturing, agri-business, transportation and logistics, and life sciences sectors to create a stronger, more diverse and sustainable local economy. The region continues to commit to having one of the most business-friendly environments anywhere — this is our differentiator and makes us attractive to investors.
– Drew Dilkens, Mayor of the City of Windsor
Consistently ranked as one of Canada's best places to live, Burlington is also the 10th most business-friendly environment among small cities, according to FDi's 2017/2018 report. Its strategic location and proximity to several top post-secondary institutions has attracted a number of high-profile companies in a range of industries. This includes everything from advanced manufacturing, food processing, metal fabrication and packaging to financial services, IT, life sciences, transportation and logistics.
Burlington is one of the best places in Canada to live and work. Our city is open for business, with extensive economic opportunities. We are proud to be opening an innovation centre in Burlington in June 2017. This initiative, led by the Burlington Economic Development Corporation, will help businesses looking to start-up or grow in Burlington, as well as established companies looking to innovate.
– Rick Goldring, Mayor of Burlington
FDi lists Niagara Falls third in business friendliness among micro cities in the western hemisphere. Bordering New York State, where $62 billion of trade crosses between Canada and the United States annually, Niagara Falls is best known for its world-renowned tourism brand, drawing 14 million visitors a year. But the city's attractiveness goes beyond its famous scenery. It's strategically located between Canada's largest metropolitan area, Toronto, and the United States, with more than 150 million consumers within a day's drive. Both new businesses and global innovators are drawn to a variety of investment opportunities in the city's key industry sectors, including manufacturing, tourism, retail and professional services.
Niagara Falls has always been the place to be. Now we're the place to grow, too! Niagara Falls has a distinctive global brand for business, with exciting investor opportunities to attract worldwide attention. Led by our strength in tourism, and with a diverse economic landscape, we are leading the way in growth and development in global markets.
– Jim Diodati, Mayor of Niagara Falls
Brantford takes the top spot as the most business-friendly city in the micro city category in the 2017/2018 FDi report. The report also names Brantford ninth overall among micro cities, recognizing the many advantages the community offers, including its strategic location, access to large consumer markets, progressive labour force, robust infrastructure, favourable real estate values and pro-business local government. For these reasons and more, Brantford continues to have success in attracting and retaining foreign investors.
As evidenced by our top ranking in the category of most business-friendly city, Brantford is widely recognized as a place with a strong sense of community that takes great pride in building long-standing, successful relationships with our valued community partners. With a clear vision, exciting new economic development initiatives and a robust business community, Brantford continues to make great strides in shaping our city into one that is increasingly vibrant, innovative, inclusive and open for business.
– Chris Friel, Mayor of Brantford
FDi has once again ranked Sarnia eighth among North American micro cities for business friendliness. Located at the centre of the Great Lakes, on the St. Lawrence Seaway system, with access to major highway, rail, water and air corridors, Sarnia has been the preeminent Canadian chemical and refining cluster in eastern Canada since 1942. The city is also a world leader in plant construction, process engineering and operations, metal fabrication, sustainable energy production and environmental technology and management. BioAmber and NOVA Chemicals are two major investors who benefit from Sarnia's Bioindustrial Innovation Centre, Sustainable Chemical Alliance and the University of Western Ontario Research Parks.
Sarnia Lambton is recognized globally as a leader in being business friendly because of a community-based, collaborative, strategic and innovative approach that engages business, labour, First Nations, educators and local government in working together to create a climate of support and opportunity for business.
– Mike Bradley, Mayor of Sarnia
Sudbury rounds out the top 10 most business-friendly cities in the micro city category. Sudbury, Canada's Resourceful City, is the home of a global cluster in mining and mining supply services. The city has a highly educated and motivated workforce, a strong network of industrial, commercial, financial and government support services, and an extensive telecommunications, transportation and logistics infrastructure. Sudbury is known as a regional centre for learning and applied research in northeastern Ontario. These advantages, combined with the city's affordable real estate prices, make Sudbury a great place for businesses to locate and grow.
Greater Sudbury is a globally recognized centre of excellence in environmental restoration and sustainability. We walk the innovation talk, linking Canada's resource sector with cutting-edge technology and exporting our expertise and products around the world. With outstanding transportation linkages and a lifestyle that is truly second to none, Sudbury is a community that should be on everyone's list of prospective locations.
– Brian Bigger, Mayor of Greater Sudbury
Chatham-Kent, an active urban and rural community right in the heart of North America, is the western hemisphere's seventh most business-friendly micro city, according to FDi. Investors appreciate the city's skilled workforce, low operating costs, wide range of suppliers and potential partners, and strategic location. More than a million Canadians live within one hour of Chatham-Kent. Easy highway access to Canadian and U.S. markets and competitive land costs make Chatham-Kent a great place to live and work. The city's key industries include agriculture, fishing, utilities, health care, food services, retail, manufacturing, transportation and logistics.
In Chatham-Kent, cultivating sustainable economic growth is our number one priority. We work effectively with new investors and our existing companies to make sure they're getting the support they need to prosper and succeed.
– Randy Hope, Mayor of Chatham-Kent
The 2017/2018 FDi report ranks Kingston sixth in human capital and lifestyle and placed first for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Strategy among small cities. This vibrant urban hub of 161,000, located in Eastern Ontario and nestled on the shores of Lake Ontario, offers a strategic geographic location central to major urban centres, averaging a short 2.5-hour drive to Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Syracuse, New York. Kingston's per capita R&D outpaces many larger cities. In addition, the city offers state-of-the-art infrastructure, a diverse workforce, and a high concentration of R&D capabilities, including chemical technologies housed at Innovation Park. Queen's University, the Royal Military College of Canada and St. Lawrence College, all world-class post-secondary institutions, provide start-ups and existing companies with an extraordinary talent pool of 30,000 bright students, as well as post-docs and faculty.
Kingston is a smart, livable, 21st-century city. This year we attracted one of the largest foreign direct investment projects in Canada, a showcase of our commitment to targeting key industry sectors and creating new employment opportunities for the talented, innovative and ambitious people who call Kingston home.
– Bryan Paterson, Mayor of Kingston
FDi ranks Pickering in the top 10 among micro cities for connectivity (fourth) and business friendliness (sixth) because of the many advantages it offers. The city is undergoing a dramatic transformation with the development of Seaton (up to 70,000 residents and 35,000 jobs), which will become an energy-efficient, fibre-optic-connected and transit-supportive urban community. Its diverse and robust economy includes one of Ontario's strongest energy, environment and engineering clusters, and Durham Region's largest industrial base. The city's strategic location gives it access to major markets and places it near some of the largest and most prestigious post-secondary institutions in the country. Another bonus: business tax rates in Pickering are some of the lowest of the larger municipalities east of Toronto.
Pickering is emerging as one of Ontario's economic powerhouses and is expected to lead the nation in growth over the next 25 years. With the advent of Seaton, the Pickering Innovation Corridor and a potential airport, Pickering offers unrivalled investment opportunities.
– Dave Ryan, Mayor of Pickering
The Province of Ontario offers an environment where new ideas can flourish. The lowest overall business costs in the G7, one of the most internationally competitive corporate tax rates and the most educated workforce of all OECD countries enhance the opportunities for those starting or growing businesses in industries such as Aerospace, Automotive, Financial Services, Food and Beverage Manufacturing, Information Technology, Life Sciences, Mining, Tourism and Water Technology.
Browse a listing of investment-ready, certified sites in Ontario.
April 10, 2017
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All figures are in Canadian dollars unless otherwise noted. Information is accurate at the time of publication.