It's no secret that Waterloo Region hosts some of the biggest companies in Canada, and we are even being referred to as "Canada’s Tech Triangle". Other then Blackberry here are a few companies you are sure to know; Open Text, COM DEV, McCafee Canada Inc, Toyota, Accelerator, Aeryon Labs, Desire2Learn, Maplesoft, Dalsa, Google, and the list goes on. There is also a strong insurance presence being home to Manulife, Sunlife, Equitbale Life, and Faith Life insurance companies. Not to mention Waterloo Region has three top rated Colleges and Universities. The University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University, and Conestoga College are world renowned, and not only attract intelligent people, but big business and big ideas. After all Blackberry was a start up out of the University of Waterloo, and after the fall of Blackberry, seeing a %50 job loss and a %90 loss of value, many wondered if Waterloo would struggle to hold these big companies and investments, and continue to be a major player both in Canada and World Wide.
The good news is yes it has. Blackberry seems to have stabilized and is arguably gaining ground. Open Text has just received a $120-million grant from the Liberal government to add to its own 2 Billion Dollar investment to expand in Waterloo, Toronto, Peterborough, Kingston, and Ottawa. “This investment is a terrific example of how government can partner with business to help create jobs and grow the economy,” says Premier Kathleen Wynne. “We are an Ontario-grown global company and we chose to invest here because of the highly educated workforce, our strong university partnerships in R-&-D, as well as the province’s robust and innovative start-up communities,” said Open Text president and CEO Mark Barrenechea.*1
More big news for the Region is a 200-million venture capital fund aimed at Waterloo start ups. Waterloo's own Tim Ellis, outgoing chief executive officer of the Accelerator Centre is teaming up with Michael Wekerle, owner of an investment bank called Difference Capital. "We hope to start off with $200 million," Ellis said in an interview with the Record. "My partner, Michael Wekerle, is in the process of raising the funds now and he's pretty confident we can get to a couple hundred million to start, but ultimately would love to see something up around $600 million, so it is significant."*2
The big investment in Waterloo Region is also targeted at commercial and residential development. Demand for commercial real estate in the region is on the rise. One large development to note is the NCR lands in north Waterloo. "The average rent in Waterloo rose 10% to $12.42 a square foot in 2012, real estate services company CBRE said.*3 The City of Waterloo has seen a huge burst of investment in the condominium scene, with large scale development of the Barrel Yards, and the Uptown and University areas. One of the newest developments sees major changes on King St N in Waterloo. This area is emerging as a hot spot for investments with 100 year old run down student rentals being sold for millions of dollars, bull dozed and making way for expansive high rise luxury condos. JG group has an amazing restoration investment development underway in Hespeler Cambridge Ontario, with the revitalization of the iconic historic downtown, with plans to in gauge business with luxury lofts.