Several Ontario cities were once again featured prominently in the 2019/2020 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 2019/2020 report across all categories include Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, London, Hamilton, Kitchener, Cambridge and Burlington.

Additional “cities to watch” include: Ottawa, Oakville, Markham, Guelph, Waterloo, Windsor, Niagara Falls, Brantford, Sarnia, Sudbury, Chatham-Kent, Kingston and Pickering.

Toronto logo

Toronto: A top three ‘City of the Future’

In the major cities category, Toronto lands the third spot overall, ahead of Houston, Chicago and Boston, earning several accolades, including third in economic potential and business friendliness, seventh in connectivity and 11th in FDI Strategy.

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

Mississauga logo

Mississauga: The most business-friendly mid-sized city in the western hemisphere

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 third in connectivity, fourth in economic potential and 10th in FDI Strategy.

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

Brampton logo

Brampton: Top eight overall among mid-sized cities

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 eighth spot as a City of the Future in the mid-sized city category. Additionally, Brampton placed first in connectivity, while ranking among the top 10 for business friendliness.

These awards reinforce Brampton’s position as a world-class city and a prime location for global businesses to invest. Our focus on building the types of assets that attract investment and capitalizing on the City’s strengths positions us well to compete in the global investment community.

– Patrick Brown, Mayor of Brampton

London logo

London: Home to hundreds of thriving manufacturing companies

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 Fraunhofer Project Centre. These advantages have helped London secure the eighth spot in both the business-friendly and the human capital and lifestyle mid-sized city categories.

With shovel-ready land and advanced infrastructure, London has proven to be the ideal place for business in the region.

– Kapil Lakhotia, President and CEO of the London Economic Development Corporation

Hamilton logo

Hamilton: A transportation hub and leader in innovation

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 adjacency to national rail lines and easy access to major highways, as well as multiple international border crossings. Hamilton is 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 2019/2020 FDi report, Hamilton ranks sixth overall for mid-sized cities. It also takes the second spot in connectivity, the seventh spot in business friendliness and 18th in FDI Strategy.

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

Cambridge logo

Cambridge: In the heart of Canada’s technology centre

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 seventh place, Cambridge joins Plano, Texas and Reno, Nevada as one of the 10 most business-friendly cities in the small city category. Cambridge also placed ninth in terms of human capital and lifestyle. 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.

Already a hub for advanced manufacturing and Ontario’s nuclear industries, Cambridge has seen our local tech and creative sectors boom with no signs of slowing down. With so many factors in our favour - a prime geographic location, access to skilled workforce, low cost of living, and high quality of life – Cambridge is the ideal place to start or grow your business.

– Mayor Kathryn McGarry, City of Cambridge

Burlington logo

Burlington: One of the best places to live and do business in Canada

Consistently ranked as one of Canada’s best places to live, Burlington also placed 23rd in FDI strategy, according to fDi’s 2019/2020 report. Its strategic location including being near 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 and transportation and logistics.

Being recognized this way is absolutely great news for the City of Burlington and further reinforces our city’s commitment to being open for business both locally and globally. All this goes hand-in-hand with the Red Tape Red Carpet Task Force I launched as Mayor earlier this year. The Task Force’s mission is to better understand the challenges (the red tape) to locating and expanding a business in Burlington, and to find solutions that will better serve our local businesses (the red carpet) that are already operating here.

– Marianne Meed Ward, Mayor of Burlington

Kitchener logo

Kitchener: Small and business-friendly city

Kitchener ranked 10th in business friendliness for small cities in the 2019/2020 fDi report and is the largest municipality in the Waterloo Region, Ontario’s main tech-hub. The city is home to over 5,000 start-ups and 200,000 tech workers who are thoroughly involved in the tech eco system as they are constantly working with incubators, accelerators and research institutes all over Kitchener.

With a history rooted in manufacturing and collaboration, Kitchener has become one of the top 25 start-up ecosystems in the world. We achieved this by supporting innovation throughout all aspects of our community. Together with business and other partners, we are creating a community that is sustainable and resilient to change, while ensuring that no one is left behind. We look forward to collaborating with all economic clusters and the incredible talent in our community, to continue to build an innovative, caring and vibrant Kitchener.

– Berry Vrbanovic, Mayor of Kitchener

Other Ontario cities to watch

Ottawa logo

Ottawa: Ontario’s diverse tech hub

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.

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

Oakville logo

Oakville: A top place to live and do business

Oakville, 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 logo

Markham: Canada’s high-tech capital

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 tech and life sciences companies. Industry leaders with Canadian head offices in Markham include IBM, Lenovo, Nokia, 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.

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

Guelph logo

Guelph: A small city with big advantages

Recognized for its diverse and stable economy, nearness 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 livable cities. It’s no wonder we’ve been called “the little city that could!”

– Cam Guthrie, Mayor of Guelph

Waterloo logo

Waterloo: A great place to invest and do business

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.

Waterloo is one of the most recognized communities for innovative start-ups in the world. We have high employment rates and an incredible, active quality of life. As Canada’s education city, three top post-secondary institutions are right here in the heart of Waterloo attracting students and thinkers from around the world. With our rich cultural diversity, we offer our visitors a unique blend of intriguing restaurants, boutique stores, galleries and nightlife. We’re also proud to be recognized as a Gold Bicycle Friendly Community by the Share the Road Cycling Coalition. Not only can you get everywhere on over 150 km of connected trails, there’s time for everything you love to do. You can get home in time for dinner, make it to soccer practice, take a walk in Waterloo’s popular parks, or go to the city’s vibrant uptown via the region’s new light rail transit system.

– Dave Jaworsky, Mayor of Waterloo

Windsor logo

Windsor: Countless opportunities for growing businesses

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 allows itself to be an easy choice when considering an ideal place to conduct business.

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

Niagara Falls logo

Niagara Falls: A city that has both tourism and innovation

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 logo

Brantford: A 21st-century community uniquely positioned for business development

Brantford has been recognized for 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.

Brantford is a city with a strong sense of community that takes great pride in building longstanding, successful relationships with our business partners. The city’s diverse economy and close-proximity to large consumer markets offer businesses several unique competitive advantages that have resulted in substantial investment, from both national and global markets. Brantford City Council continues to make great strides in shaping our city into one that is increasingly vibrant, innovative, inclusive and open for business—key factors that contribute to Brantford as a primary destination for investment.

– Kevin Davis, Mayor of Brantford

Sarnia logo

Sarnia: A global leader in a micro city

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.

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 logo

Sudbury: A resourceful environment in northeastern Ontario

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 logo

Chatham-Kent: A great place to live, work and grow

Chatham-Kent, an active urban and rural community right in the heart of North America. 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.

Chatham-Kent is a community on the move upward. Designated as Canada’s first Welcoming Community, we have seen the value of our building permits double during the past four years. We have just broken ground on a 380-home residential development. Our proactive approach toward residential attraction has seen our population increase by 3.1 per cent since the 2016 census (according to the 2018 BMA Study). We are a member of the province’s Certified Site program so we can meet your needs quickly. In Chatham-Kent, our quality of life helps us all reach our potential.

– Darrin Canniff, Mayor of Chatham-Kent

Kingston logo

Kingston: A great place to live and learn. A top choice for investment

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

Pickering logo

Pickering: A safe, diverse community to start or grow your business

Pickering 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.

– David Ryan, Mayor of Pickering

Start or grow your business in Ontario

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.


August 27, 2019
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