You have the entrepreneurial spirit, you’re passionate about a business idea and you’ve devised a plan to put your idea into motion. Now you need to pick the perfect city to open a business and begin growing your company. Canada offers a variety of cities with ample business-friendly qualities from low tax rates to a high concentration of optimistic small business owners.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) releases the Communities in Boom: Canada’s Top Entrepreneurial Cities report each year ranking the best cities for opening a new business. The report analyzes a variety of factors to determine the best Canadian city for entrepreneurs to open shop, including:
- Concentration of entrepreneurs
- Rate of business start-ups
- Municipal taxes
- Plans for city growth
- Optimism of local business owners
- Industrial diversity
- Scale of business ownership
The 2013 report ranked the Greater Calgary area as the best city for entrepreneurs citing the strength of the gas and oil industry in the area driving higher consumer engagement, as well as positive feelings displayed by business owners surrounding the opportunities for growth in the city. The CFIB issues two rankings – one of cities with a population exceeding 150,000, and the second of cities with a population less than 150,000. Below, you’ll find a mix of cities both small and large with a plethora of business-friendly principles helping entrepreneurs open new businesses and current small business owners enjoy less red tape and more profits.
Ranking No. 2 in the CFIB list, Saskatoon has seen a 2.7 percent population growth over the past five years and is one of the fastest-growing communities and economies in Canada, according to the Conference Board of Canada. Saskatoon’s Business Growth committee has established a number of tax incentives geared toward helping small businesses and attracting/facilitating startups in the city. The Conference Board also mentions Saskatoon as a leading city for economic investment.
St. John’s, Newfoundland
The oldest English-founded city in North America, St. John’s has recently experienced across-the-board growth. Employment, wages and overall business optimism have been on the rise in St. John’s, leading to a 7.8 percent increase in personal income and a 6.9 percent increase in retail over the past year, according to St. John’s economic-development office. All of these factors, plus friendly government policies, make St. John’s a great place to start a new business as the city’s population shares a feeling of confidence and willingness to spend their hard-earned dollars locally.
Lloydminster grabs the top spot on the “small cities” list and has plenty to offer potential small business owners. As a border town, Lloydminster businesses enjoy economic benefits from both provinces – Alberta and Saskatchewan. With an assortment of taxation exemptions, Lloydminster residents and business owners have seen a growth in new construction, renovation and retail over the past year. These projects are welcomed by Lloydminster residents’ looking for new retail shops and stores to spend their money – the median household income rests just north of $109,000.
Nearly 5 percent of the population in Regina is entrepreneurs and many predict a bright forecast for businesses in Saskatchewan’s capital city. Regina is home to Canada’s lowest unemployment rate among major cities at 3.9 percent and also offers some of the best taxation laws for small businesses. Regina is the cheapest city to operate a company in North America, according to the Regina Regional Opportunities Commission. The Conference Board of Canada also expects jobs to grow by 3.5 percent in Regina this year.
Edmonton is the capital city of Alberta and offers a lower commercial-to-residential tax rate ratio than Calgary – the leading city for entrepreneurs in Canada, according to the CFIB’s report. The city also offers hands-on assistance through groups like the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation and Startup Edmonton. These are places where potential small business owners can physically work or find inspiration by networking with fellow entrepreneurs.
Kelowna, British Columbia
Kelowna jumped seven spots and into the top ten on the CFIB’s annual report thanks to a number of investments by the private sector to revamp the town and boost the city’s economy. Mayor Walter Gray credits the economic change to a new council elected a few years ago pushing the theme of “we’re open for business.” The recent developments have catapulted the city into one of the most business-friendly in the country.
The variety of Canadian cities above provides a well-rounded outlook on the best places to open a new business in Canada, based on a wide assortment of factors. Make sure to check back with the Vistaprint Canada blog for more news, tips and best practices to help your small business continue to grow.