Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cities band together to lure investors

By VITO PILIECI, Postmedia News January 22, 2011

The Ottawa Centre for Research and Innovation has banded together with economic development groups in 10 other major Canadian cities to lure more international technology investment to Canada.

The group, calling itself the C-11, has launched the website ConsiderCanada.com,which aims to promote successful investments in technology throughout Canada's largest cities and to give international businesses reasons to consider Canadian locations for their future investments.

The cities involved are Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ontario's Waterloo Region, Halifax and Saskatoon.

"Collaboration is the new competitive advantage," said John Jung, chief executive of Canada's Technology Triangle Inc. in Waterloo Region, a C-11 partner.

"Banding together to share knowledge, build consensus on Canada's selling points and getting out a consistent message around the world allows the C-11 to achieve more together than working in isolation."

Until this point, economic development agencies from each of the C-11 municipalities have been lobbying international businesses individually, which often placed them in competition with one another for foreign investment. Working together allows the agencies to prevent duplication, reduce marketing costs, refine their "messaging" and help big international business make quicker decisions about where in Canada to set up shop.

All of the municipalities involved have technology clusters that will make them attractive to various international players.

For example, Ottawa has a strong cluster of networking talent, thanks to companies such as Nortel Networks and JDS Uniphase in the past.

Montreal is particularly strong in software development, Calgary is a leader in nanotechnology, and Waterloo's strength lies in mobile devices thanks to the presence of Research In Motion Ltd.

Mike Darch, executive director of OCRI's global marketing team, said that, even though the cities each offer their own strengths, he still expected them to compete for new business.

"We have to make sure that potential trading partners and investment partners aren't turned off by hearing 11 voices and saying, 'I don't want to listen to you all,' " Darch said. "We want to get a unified message out."

Cities are increasingly taking a larger role in positioning themselves to attract international investment. Darch pointed to the Jan. 17 announcement by Ciena Canada Inc., which plans to invest $900 million into its Ottawa research and development labs over the next five years.

The Baltimore-based company now performs more than 50 per cent of its research and development in Ottawa. Similarly, Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. announced plans for a $50-million research and development lab in Ottawa last spring,

The C-11 initiative started in 2007, when an economic development group from Calgary proposed that the Canada's largest cities should work together. The idea surfaced again three months ago, prompted by Canada's startling performance during the economic downturn.

Canada is now the only G7 nation to have recouped its losses from the recent recession. Coupled with a strong banking system and wealth of natural resources, the country is quickly becoming a magnet for international investment.

The C-11 will see each of the 11 economic development agencies share the costs of the international marketing initiative.

Darch said the group was looking to secure federal funding for its initiative.

Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/Cities+band+together+lure+investors/4148588/story.html#ixzz1C6ZSHhDI

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