Communities are often a product of their geographical location. Fisheries tend to be near oceans. Oil towns tend to be near oil fields. Tourist hotspots tend to be near beaches or mountains.
For businesses, geographical location can mean the difference between success and failure. Business leaders need to keep global access, consumer proximity, talent and lifestyle into account when choosing where to grow their company. There’s a reason why the real estate mantra “location, location, location” is so long lived.
So, how has Waterloo’s location helped to drive this sort of recognition? How has our location shaped our economy? How does our location help give businesses an advantage?Here are four maps that illustrate the big advantages that make Waterloo a top “opportunity market”:
1. Where in the world is Waterloo?
This is easy. We’re in North America. Canada, to be specific. Our location in North America puts us in the Eastern Time Zone, which means we keep the same time as cities like New York, Boston, Toronto, Montreal, Washington and Miami. Our central location means we’re as close to the American Midwest as we are to the Atlantic Seaboard, which also makes the North American West Coast (San Francisco and Los Angeles) and Europe accessible via reasonably short flights.
We’re a lot further South than you might imagine. For example, our latitude is roughly even with Boston, Detroit and Chicago in North America, Monaco and Florence in Europe, and Sapporo in Asia. Cities like Seattle, Vienna, Paris, London and Berlin are all further North than we are. Our summers are warmer than much of Europe, and our winters cooler, with much more snow than places like Brussels or Munich.
2. A one-day drive to 150 million consumers
When looking at our location in North America, you can see how central we are to many of the largest economic markets in the United States, and how close we are to Canada’s largest city.
By our calculations– using 1200km (745mi) as the average distance you can travel in a car or transport (via highway) in one day – we’re within reach of New York City, Boston and Washington on the Atlantic Seaboard, cities like Detroit, Chicago and St. Louis in the American Midwest, and everything in between, including Nashville, Columbus and Pittsburgh. Six nearby border crossings make moving product between Canada and the United States simple, and a free trade agreement between these two countries makes it more profitable than shipping from overseas.
In Canada, you can easily reach Toronto (North America’s 4th largest city), Ottawa and Montreal within one day.
Altogether, this transportation watershed includes 150+ million consumers. If your company produces a physical product and needs access to a large potential market, Waterloo is a great place to be.
3. The talent engine of North America’s second largest technology cluster
If your company is working on any sort of technological application – automotive, aerospace, financial, security, etc. – then you should pay close attention to this map. The Toronto-Waterloo Corridor is the second largest technology cluster in North America, just behind Silicon Valley. A recent report from CBRE found that Toronto’s tech workforce was the fastest-growing in North America, and both Waterloo and Hamilton – just a short drive away – were listed in the top three for “opportunity markets.”
Altogether, the Toronto-Waterloo Corridor has well over 250,000 tech workers.
Where are these tech workers coming from? Waterloo. The University of Waterloo (UWaterloo), to be specific. We just wrote an article about the mind-blowing stats that make UWaterloo unique, but here’s a summary: it’s Canada’s top technology university, home to the country’s #1 computer science program and largest engineering school. The New York Times called it “one of the world’s top technology schools.” When CBRE recently recognised Toronto as the fastest growing tech workforce in North America, the report listed UWaterloo as Toronto's top talent source.
4. A well-connected community enables a diverse economy
Welcome to Waterloo Region. What you’re seeing in this image is our whole community, with three urban areas and a surrounding rural countryside with picturesque towns and villages. Our community is about 50km across, and connected with a network of rural highways and expressways, making transportation across the community and onto major highways like the 401 – Canada’s busiest highway – simple.
This connectedness makes it possible to locate a business anywhere in Waterloo without significant logistical issues. Major companies like Ontario Drive and Gear (a manufacturing company) and Quarry Communications – both located outside the urban centres – provide helpful examples.
Many major manufacturers, including Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada and ATS Automation, are located in Cambridge, where serviced land is available and in close proximity to the 401 highway.
The epicentre of the region’s tech industry is located in Kitchener and Waterloo, which are served by an express highway (7&8 on map) – making almost all travel in the two locations convenient – and a brand new light rail transit system that connects some of the community’s top tech assets, including UWaterloo, Google Canada’s engineering headquarters and more.
The connectivity this map so clearly illustrates is why the average commute in Waterloo is just 22.8 minutes.
- Waterloo is a “rising tech superstar city”: Four reasons why in new TD Bank report
- Five astounding facts about the University of Waterloo
- Why Waterloo is giving big tech hubs competition
- CBRE releases list of North America’s fastest-growing “opportunity markets”
- Nine big ways Waterloo has changed in the last 10 years