Toronto (population 2.7 million)

Toronto is the most populous city in Canada and the fourth most populous city in North America. It is also Canada’s business and financial capital and a top ten global financial centre.  

The Toronto metropolitan area is widely considered to be one of the best places in Canada to start a business, as it is a hub for the country’s financial, commercial, industrial and tech industries. 

Toronto is home to the Toronto Stock Exchange and the five largest banks in Canada have national offices in the city.  

Other reasons to expand, relocate or start a business in Toronto include the presence of thriving industries including media, publishing, telecommunications, information IT and film production.  

Major company headquarters in the city include Bell Media, Rogers Communications, Manulife, Sun Life Financial, Hudson’s Bay Company, and major hotel companies and operators such as Four Seasons Hotels and Fairmont Hotels and Resorts. 

Vancouver (population 670,000) 

Located in the Pacific Northwest, Vancouver boasts a thriving tourism industry and high-tech economy base. As well as prestigious educational institutions that provide a stream of graduate employees, including the University of British Columbia, it offers great potential for business start-ups.

Local and federal tax incentives have helped Vancouver become the start-up capital in Canada, with a thriving tech sector and renowned film and television industry.  

Through Port Metro Vancouver, Canada’s largest and most diversified port doing more than $172bn in trade with over 160 different trading economies annually, many sectors and industries continue to take advantage of the city’s strategic business location to help grow their enterprise.  

Vancouver is the Canadian epicentre for software development, biotechnology, aerospace, video game development, animation studios and television production and film industry.  

With the city’s focus on lifestyle and health culture, it is also headquarters to brands including Lululemon, Mountain Equipment Co-op, Herschel Supply Co, Aritzia and Nature’s Path Foods. 

Montreal (population 1.8 million) 

Montreal lies in the province of Quebec on the St Lawrence River, located close to the US border and just 196km east of Ottawa.  

Investment strengths in the city and province are centered around sectors including aerospace, transport, finance, pharmaceuticals, technology, design, education, art, culture, tourism, food, fashion, video game development, film and world affairs. 

The city is renowned for its tech industry and is a global hub for AI research. Tech is a particularly booming sector, with Greater Montréal having the fifth-highest concentration of tech jobs among the largest metropolitan areas in Canada and the US.  

When it comes to reasons to start, relocate or expand a business in the city, the fiscal forecasts are propitious and optimistic. Montreal has been forecast to enjoy the most rapid economic growth in Canada during 2022. Corporate and business investments will likely play a significant role in driving this growth, with some forecasts seeing it continue into 2023 and beyond.  

Calgary (population 1.3 million) 

Calgary is Canada’s fourth largest city by population and is well known as a centre for business and entrepreneurship related to the energy sector.  

Calgary has the highest GDP per capita of major Canadian cities, and also boasts a higher concentration of tech industry employees and more corporate headquarters than other Canadian cities.  

Sectors and industries that have established a major presence in the city or seen businesses expand or start up there include aerospace, agribusiness, creative industries, energy and environmental, financial services, interactive digital media, life sciences, technology, transportation and logistics.  

Not only is there a wide selection of co-working spaces in Calgary, but the city is also home to incubators such as Start-up Calgary and Innovate Calgary, which give entrepreneurs the support across many levels. 

Hamilton (population 570,000) 

Hamilton is located in the province of Ontario, and has close proximity to the border crossings and multiple major international airports. It therefore is widely considered to represent a good place to set up, expand or relocate a business in Canada.  

With a highly skilled workforce across many sectors, expansion, relocation or start-up companies have access to a sizeable talent pool in Hamilton. More than 2 million people live within a two-hour radius of the city, with multiple educational institutions continually feeding into the workforce options for businesses.  

Government agencies, via tax incentives, and education and research institutions continue to encourage and support new and existing business endeavours.   

Hamilton is home to world-class universities, colleges and research-intensive companies that have created an ideal environment for new product development and innovation. These include McMaster University, Columbia International College and Hamilton Institute of Technology.  

As one of Canada’s most business-diverse economies with a growing population, many tech companies are expanding or starting up in Hamilton, taking advantage of the highly technical workforce and educational centres of innovation.  

Information and data from Statistics Canada, Montreal International, City Population, Montréal Chamber of Commerce, and Invest in Canada.