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Northern cities better than Toronto for biz; It's not just us: Canadian Business magazine has named Greater Sudbury and Thunder Bay as top Canadian cities to do business in.

Eat your heart out, Toronto.

According to Canadian Business magazine, Northern Ontario is not a bad place to do business at all.

In fact, in their fourth annual ranking of the "Best Cities For Business," Greater Sudbury (8th) and Thunder Bay (9th) placed in the top 10. Vaughan, Ontario, Mississauga, Burnaby, British Columbia, Montreal and Toronto filled out the bottom of the top 40 in that order.

Only Hamilton (6th) outranked Sudbury and Thunder Bay among Ontario cities.

An article that ran with the list focused on the fact that Mississauga outranked Toronto and explored the question of the out-migration of many businesses from the ritzy high-cost downtown of Toronto to outlying areas where amenities, services and a sizable market are without the pricey tax bill in tow.

Richard Pohler is the senior development officer in the City of Thunder Bay's tourism and economic development division.

According to him, Thunder Bay can benefit from the same effect that is driving many manufacturing and other companies out from the Toronto core to the 905 area code, where overhead is a lot cheaper.

"Companies will be looking at moving their operations in higher-cost jurisdictions to places where the costs are not as great," he says.

He adds it reaffirms what many in the city have believed for some time: Thunder Bay is an attractive place in which to do business.

"Looking at the criteria, we're pleased we rated as highly as we did," he says.

The operating costs of a business are very important to shareholders, he says, and a relatively low cost of living for the city helps keep wage expectations in check.

The increase in the total value of building permits granted in the city shows a growing city, but doesn't tell the whole story.

According to Pohler, many cities ranked higher and lower than Thunder Bay in the magazine have good building permit numbers but no space to put any new operations.

"In Thunder Bay, we have large tracts of available industrial land and a cost-effective workforce," he says. "That's important to show.

"This is one more tool we can use to highlight the advantages a place like Thunder Bay has to offer."

Said advantages include a highly available workforce, a safe community to work and live in, a cutting-edge technology centre and the first medical school to open its doors in Canada in 30 years.

Smokin' Sudbury

The magazine's report also forecasts gross domestic product (GDP) growth rates, and pegged Sudbury's at 1.9 per cent between 2006 and 2009, the highest projection among midsized Northern Ontario cities.

"Sudbury comes out on this list as an unspoken gem," says Helen Mulc, the city's business development manager.

"When you think of places to do business, you think of the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) and I think this particular ranking shows that Sudbury offers significant competitive advantages for businesses."

As far as selling Greater Sudbury to business owners, Mulc said the ranking will help establish Sudbury as being more business friendly and attracting new business. She says it will also help retain companies already established in Greater Sudbury.

"When you're positioned in the top 10, well above communities in the GTA, it helps us say, 'We've got some incredible assets in this community; take another look.'"

In the future, Mulc would like to see Greater Sudbury climb the rankings and take the top spot, but says in the meantime the plan for the city is to stay the course and to continue to promote Sudbury as location synonymous with business growth and development.

"When you think about the ability to offer competitive business costs, access to a qualified and loyal pool of workers, a relatively high quality of life and a low crime rate, Sudbury serves as a hub for northeastern Ontario," she says. "We are strategically positioned and I think this will do nothing but great things for us as we go out and sell Greater Sudbury."

St, John's, Nfld. topped the list, which ranked cities according to the average annual operating costs of a local business, the city's cost of living index, building permit growth, underemployment rate change and crime rate per 100,000 people.

The operating costs were determined based on a company with 300 employees, with average real estate, energy and other expenses.

Sagenuenay, Que, Saint John, N.B., Sherbrooke, Que, Charlottetown, Hamilton and Saskatoon rounded out the top seven, while St. Catharines/Niagara Falls/Welland ranked tenth.

Other notable cities included were Winnipeg (15th), Calgary (18th), Edmonton (19th), Ottawa (22nd), Windsor (27th) and Vancouver (35th), which had the highest operating costs of any city on the list at $29,348,714. Sudbury's operating costs were just under $26 million; Thunder Bay's were about $25,250,000.


Northern Ontario Business
COPYRIGHT 2005 Laurentian Business Publishing, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
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Article Details
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Author:Gilbert, Craig
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Nov 1, 2005
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