Ontario: Ontario In-Depth

31 Oct, 2012

By: Trade & Industry Development

Ontario, Canada has a reputation as a nice, quiet place – safe, clean, even boring. What people don’t always know is that it’s an economic dynamo and an engine for growth on the business and innovation fronts.

Perceptions are changing. International investors, in particular, have clearly noticed the exciting things happening in Ontario. According to a recent report by the Financial Times’ fDi Intelligence think-tank, last year, Ontario ranked ahead of all North American states and provinces except Alberta for total capital investment.

Leaders across industries are increasingly drawn not just to Ontario’s reputation as an exceptionally sound and stable place to do business; they’re also attracted by Ontario’s solid economic growth, skilled and reliable workforce, environment of innovation, proximity to market, competitive business costs and high quality of life.

Throughout the global economic downturn, Canada got a lot of attention for its top-notch economic stewardship and health. Ontario, too, garnered praise as the heart of Canada’s financial services sector and for its forward-thinking energy policy, investments in skills and innovation, and diversified economy, including leadership in alternative energy, clean cars, life sciences, smart grid development, information and communications technology, aerospace and more. (These policies and achievements may explain recent growth in exports and manufacturing outputs).

The fDi Intelligence report confirmed Ontario’s leadership in clean energy. According to the report, Ontario landed the highest number of renewable energy projects in North America in 2011 – an impressive achievement when you consider that in the same year, renewable energy was the second-largest sector for foreign direct investment in North America.i

U.S. investors and site selectors are especially drawn to Ontario because of the province’s close proximity, distinct similarities and Ontario’s long legacy as a leading hub of industry and innovation. For these investors, Ontario isn’t just a profitable choice, it’s an easy one. Ontario is right at their doorstep and affords them the opportunity to expand their market.

People and goods move quickly and seamlessly in and out of Ontario. Ontario has 14 convenient land border crossings into the United States in addition to rail border crossings, ports and airports. Ontario’s up-to-date, integrated transportation infrastructure includes highways, internationally connected railways, worldwide cargo aviation systems and extensive marine shipping facilities.

That ease of access means that companies that do business in Ontario have access to the entire U.S. $17 trillionii marketplace under the North American Free Trade Agreement, and the Ontario market which has more than 13.4 million peopleiii and boasts the largest concentration of the country’s highest income earners. The province can mark an entry point for access to Canada’s 33 million-strong consumers. Access also means that companies can leverage Ontario’s high-quality talent to create products and services for these lucrative markets.

How does investing in Ontario benefit companies? In 2011, Ontario companies exported more than $324 billion worth of products and services.iv

Companies interested in investing in Ontario have a wide array of regions and cities to choose from. On this and the following pages, get an in-depth look at what some of Ontario's leading cities have to offer businesses.


Spanning nearly 270 square miles within the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), and just minutes from Canada’s largest city, labor pool and transportation hub, Caledon, Ontario offers a unique mixture of a bustling urban and industrial center surrounded by a calm rural environment characterized by beautiful rolling hills, valleys and quiet open spaces.

The GTA is home to one of the largest and most competitive food processing jurisdictions in North America – registering annual sales in excess of $32 billion.

Geographically, Caledon is among the biggest municipalities within the GTA and holds one of the largest caches of planned and “shovel-ready” industrial lands in the region. Its development fees and municipal taxes are also among the GTA’s lowest. These advantages have played a significant role in attracting multinational food companies, like Mars, Sardo Foods and Pioneer Hi-Bred.

This town of nearly 60,000 has earned a reputation of providing a safe, stable and sustainable environment for its private and corporate residents. This is evidenced by its selection as “Ontario’s Greenest Community” and “Canada’s Safest Community” – titles bestowed by independent media outlets on multiple occasions.

With its safe and green environment, desirable location, healthy allotments of planned or shovel-ready industrial developments, and low taxes and development charges, Caledon is well on the way to establishing itself as one of Canada’s most desirable business centers, and is poised for tremendous industrial growth.

Located on the eastern border of the Greater Toronto Area, The Municipality of Clarington is the gateway to opportunity. Clarington is conveniently located along the shores of Lake Ontario and the Highway 401 corridor. Providing a sought-after quality of life, direct access to a large market base and investment of infrastructure -- Clarington brings great opportunities for future innovation and growth.

Clarington’s successful blend of urban and rural living provides a diverse business community and unparalleled quality of life. Clarington is the home to Ontario Power Generation’s Darlington Nuclear station, providing approximately 20 percent of Ontario’s current electricity demand. The municipality is also proud to have over 400 working and interactive farms, a blend of vibrant historic downtown cores, a strong manufacturing base and excellence in the energy sector.

The municipality is poised for several multi-billion-dollar infrastructure projects slated to commence in the near future totalling over $22 billion in investment. These projects include Ontario Power Generation’s Darlington Nuclear Refurbishment, proposed Darlington Nuclear New Build, Darlington Energy Complex, Durham-York Energy Centre, Port Granby Project, the extension of GO transit system to Bowmanville and extension of Highway 407 to Highway 35/115 by the year 2020 — projects that will create exponential job growth.

There is always plenty to do in Clarington, including two zoos, The Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Cedar Park: Family Campground & Water Park and kilometers of hiking/cycling in natural trails. For summer relaxation, one can dock at one of two harbors or ski at Brimacombe Ski Hill.

Elgin County
Elgin County is a dynamic and growing community strategically located within a two-hour drive of both Toronto and Detroit. A diverse base of agriculture, environmental, manufacturing, tourism and creative industries serves the surrounding population of 400,000 people.

Elgin County is truly progressive by nature. The area is home to one of Canada's largest wind farms, several large solar projects and enjoys innovative engineering of alternative energy sources such as biodiesel and ethanol.

With some of Ontario's richest soils and a long growing season, Elgin's agricultural industries are thriving. Agriculture accounts for 19.7 percent of the jobs in the County, with sales of $558 million annually. Elgin County's location and competitive labor and business costs make it the ideal location for smaller farms looking to compete in today’s markets.

Elgin's tourism and cultural sectors are ever-expanding as the area's pristine natural beauty, beaches, wineries, museums, galleries and quaint villages are discovered more and more every day.

Idyllic rural landscapes, charming towns and villages, as well as waterfront living make life in Elgin County the ideal alternative to the hustle and bustle of city life. High-speed Internet, proximity to several major Canadian highways and a short drive to the major urban centers of London, Toronto and Detroit give Elgin County all the advantages of the "big city" without all the hassle.

Elgin residents enjoy an exemplary lifestyle with access to fresh local products, competitive tax rates and property costs that are well below the national average.

Niagara Falls
Located in the heart of North America’s most affluent consumer market, Niagara Falls is next door to the United States as well as Canada’s major marketplace, the Greater Toronto Area. Each year, billions of commercial trade dollars are transported through Canada /U.S. border crossings in Niagara Falls.

Strategically located on the Canada/United States border, its extensive multimodal transportation network of highways, railways, waterways and airports, allows businesses to connect with more than 150 million North American consumers in less than a day’s drive.

Niagara Falls’ skilled and dedicated labor force is drawn from across the Niagara region.

For companies that require specialized training, Niagara Falls’ college and university will help. In-house research and development or partnerships with these postsecondary institutions produce innovative results. And companies can take advantage of available R&D tax credits, too.

Niagara Falls offers a quality of life that is hard to beat. It allows for the enjoyment of all the amenities of a large urban center in a comfortable, livable community. Arts, culture, recreation, shopping and peaceful quiet moments... they’re all in Niagara Falls.


Photo courtesy of Thies Bogner, MPA

Port Colborne
Proximity puts the City of Port Colborne at the top of many business wish lists, with its prime location at the heart of the Niagara region of Ontario. Twenty minutes from the U.S. border and just an hour from Toronto, Port Colborne keeps local life easy while putting major markets within a short drive.

Simply put, businesses choose Port Colborne because it’s a beautiful and affordable community with a logistical ace up its sleeve. Locating in Port Colborne means a company and its employees get the good life, along with easy access to North America’s most critical business hubs.

The community’s robust bio-food and metal fabrication clusters show how Port Colborne serves as a strategic gateway to success.

An abundant agricultural supply, large volumes of clean water and the community’s multimodal transportation network have made Port Colborne a flourishing bio-food manufacturing cluster so prolific that it has earned the name Carbohydrate Valley — the only location in Canada with local access to glucose and citric acid.

The community is also home to a competitive manufacturing infrastructure with depth in heavy metal fabrication and assembly, machining and forging. Access to a highly skilled talent pool of approximately 400,000 fuels these growing industries.

The City of Port Colborne is also committed to fueling the area’s strong economic engine, recently adopting a new community improvement plan (CIP). Targeted directly at industrial lands in the City of Port Colborne, the CIP offers four programs — including the Business Development Grant Program, the Business Retention and Expansion Grant Program, the Development Charges Rebate Program, and the Small Business Investment Grant Program — that can be accessed by companies locating or expanding in Port Colborne.


i Financial Times. "The fDi Report 2012 - Executive Summary," page 2. http://ftbsitessvr01.ft.com/forms/fDi/report2012/files/The_fDi_Report_2012.pdf. <Page accessed 26 September 2012>.
ii U.S. Department of State, United States Embassy, Ottawa, Canada. "Economic Section," http://canada.usembassy.gov/about-us/embassy-offices/economic-section.html. <Page accessed 26 September 2012>.
iii Statistics Canada. "Population by year, by province and territory." http://www.statcan.gc.ca/tables-tableaux/sum-som/l01/cst01/demo02a-eng.htm. <Page accessed 26 September 2012>
iv Ministry of Finance. "Ontario Fact Sheet September 2012," http://www.fin.gov.on.ca/en/economy/ecupdates/factsheet.pdf. <Page accessed 26 September 2012>.