Thursday, January 11, 2018
Southern Ontario: The Next Silicon Valley?
A key loss for the area in which we live, Southern Ontario, was the decline in manufacturing. For the past few decades, little by little major manufacturers have been disappearing. A major reason for this problem is free trade. I am all for free trade, but it does have consequences. While we can purchase cheaper goods, we do lose those jobs to countries that can provide cheaper labor. This loss has left the province reeling, with many people struggling to find meaningful, good-paying work. Recently a shift has occurred in Southern Ontario from the manufacturing sector, into the technology sector. Across this region, technology-based companies are setting up shop and a sort of renaissance is occurring. While we are still heavily dependent on manufacturing, technology is creeping its way to be the new base of employment. For a new generation, raised on computers, these are the job of the present and most certainly the future. Today I am going to discuss why we all should be optimistic about the future of technology employment in Southern Ontario. The trend has already begun, so let’s get on board.
The big smoke has quietly become a world leader in the technology sector. In fact, according to Expert Market, Toronto is the 3rd best tech hub to live and work in the world! It ranks only behind Berlin, Germany and Austin, Texas. It even ranks ahead of the actual Silicon Valley, San Francisco, which rolls in at 4th on the list. Why does Toronto come in at 3rd you might ask? The top reason is that our government has backed the information and technology sector with heavy investment, allowing them to start up strongly. Another reason, which may seem untrue to people who live in Toronto, is cost of living. While Toronto can seem very expensive to those who work, live and play there, it is relatively inexpensive compared to its counterparts in other major cities across the world. In terms of cost of living, Toronto is far behind New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and London UK. This makes it quite attractive to companies looking to set up shop and acquire talent. Companies like FaceBook, Google and Slack already call the big smoke home and Toronto seems poised to gather more and more tech companies as it’s worldwide reputation broadens.
The K-W has been Canada’s historic tech hub for the past decade. Bolstered by the rise of Blackberry and supported by the University of Waterloo, technology has been a staple of employment in this region for years. As Blackberry has become less popular as a brand, the region has morphed its outlook and adapted. Many new companies have taken Blackberry’s place in the region. Beagle provides automated contract analysis and uses Artificial Intelligence to gather personalized results. Pulm.io uses the power of behavioral science to identify job applicants with the best possibility of success. Thalmic Labs is changing the ways we interact with devices, on a mission to merge people and technology. Many more companies have found a home in this region and it shows no sign of slowing down as the K-W has a very reasonable cost of living and is less than an hour from Toronto.
While many in our community and others might not see London as a player in the information technology sector, it is becoming more and more evident that London has a lot to offer in this field. The main reason for London’s attractiveness is cost of living. Firms can set up shop in the Downtown Core for dirt cheap rent costs. For their employees as well, the cost to live in London is very reasonable and this allows them to attract younger talent. The fastest growing information technology research and advisory company in the world, Info-Tech, was founded in London and has since expanded to Toronto and Las Vegas. Other companies like Arcane, Digital Echidna, and makers of my site, SixFive.co all call London home. London is even a player in the gaming sector with Big Blue Bubble and Big Viking games gaining worldwide notoriety. As the Downtown Area is revitalized it will become more and more attractive for other players in the tech world to set up shop in London.
With what appears to be the right leadership at federal, provincial and local levels, Southern Ontario is on the verge of becoming a giant in the information technology sector. In Quarter 3 of 2017, Ontario added over 45,000 jobs in the scientific and technical services sector, up 8.6% over quarter 3 of 2016. It was, in fact, the largest growing sector of employment during that quarter according to the Government of Ontario. I see no reason for this trend to stop as more and more of the world is starting to recognize Canada as a prime destination for setting up business. Toronto also seems like a possible destination for a second Amazon headquarters, putting them against the favorites Atlanta and Austin. While jobs of the old are replaced with this new economy, higher paid and higher skilled labor will be needed. Even archaic companies like the big banks and insurance companies are getting on board and modernizing their systems. It is only a matter of time before technology will be the largest sector in Ontario’s employment so setting up a strong base is the right move. I’m glad we haven’t kicked our feet in this area and are welcoming the change.
Thanks for tuning in today as 2018 Trends Week continues at Budget Boss. Tune in tomorrow as I jump into the cryptocurrency trend and give my take on this exploding market. If you would like to discuss your budget plan, please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s chat money. Have a great day Bosses!
“Once a new technology rolls over you, if you’re not part of the steamroller, you’re part of the road.” – Stewart Brand
Email – email@example.com