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Top Canadian Cities for Startups

By Louie Beaupre   |    June 18, 2015   |    5:24 PM

Which Canadian cities are the most welcoming and nurturing for startups & small business?


Toronto is a fertile city providing lots of opportunities for start ups. Over the last ten years, the city has gained an international reputation for innovation and entrepreneurship. A recent report by Startup Genome listed Toronto’s startup ecosystem eighth in the world, after Silicon Valley, Tel Aviv, Los Angeles, Seattle, New York City, Boston and London. This Canadian city is one of the top cities for startups and small businesses. It possesses many desirable attributes that ambitious entrepreneurs can plug into, boasting the largest amalgamation of universities pumping out research, the most affluent venture capitalists, a diversified pool of quality talent, strong infrastructure, as well as an abundant and open-minded consumer population. Toronto is part of a valuable network, linking directly to Kitchener and Waterloo, home of BlackBerry and a thriving tech sector.

The Prairie Cities

A study by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) suggests that, for those willing to relocate, the Prairie cities are the best cities in Canada for small business and startups because they offer numerous tangible benefits. The prairie’s history is intimately tied to entrepreneurship. For hundreds of years entrepreneurs headed out to settle land so as to establish their own companies. Small business growth is on the rise in Alberta as is the level of entrepreneurship per capita according to the CFIB study, which states that Grande Prairie, Alberta, is the best city within Canada to launch a small business. The Swan City achieved its high rank due to the optimistic business outlook and the large number of business owners per capita. The city has doubled in size over the last three decades. Thanks to the oil-and-gas industry many opportunities have been created for businesses companies providing services for the sector.

Saskatoon is one of the fastest growing cities and economies in Canada. More people means more needs for goods and services, an ideal landscape for small businesses wishing to explore new and dynamic markets. This city is another highly popular destination for small business owners and start ups in Canada, especially for those wanting to cut down on red tape and up profits. Saskatoon has a reputation for being welcoming to new businesses and start ups. Local government actively strives to facilitate any administrative and other processes involved. The city boasts a Business Growth committee, set up solely to help new businesses establish themselves in Saskatoon and assist startups through taxation incentives geared toward small business.

Regina, like Saskatoon, has some of the best taxation laws when it comes to small business. According to the Regina Regional Opportunities Commission it is the cheapest city in which to operate a company in North America and is therefore one of the best cities in Canada for small business and start ups. The city offers inexpensive rental space occupied by a growing number of small companies involved in tech, media services, as well as manufacturing, transportation, communication and warehousing industries.

The 'burbs

For those who do not want to stray too far from the large cities of Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, the suburbs can be a suitable option that allow start ups and small businesses to benefit from proximity to big Canadian cities without the hassle and costs of actually being located within them. Because of these attributes, the suburbs may boast more favorable conditions for growing small businesses and setting up start ups than the cities themselves.

Wherever you plan to set up your small business it is best to conduct some thorough research so you can be prepared for the advantages and disadvantages of the city you choose.