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    The 4 Best Cities to Start a Business in Canada

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    best places to start a business

    From Victoria, BC to St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada is full of exciting opportunities for starting your own business.

    Over the last few years there has been a large upsurge in new businesses started by entrepreneurs worldwide. In the United States alone, 4.4 million businesses were founded last year — an increase of nearly 25% from 2019.

    However, business is not just booming in the United States. In 2021, three Canadian cities cracked the top forty globally when it comes to the best places to start a business. These cities in Canada included Toronto at number seventeen, Vancouver at number twenty eight, and Montreal at number thirty six.

    This means that if you have a business idea and are wondering about the best places to start a business, starting a business in Canada is a wise option!

    This article will answer several questions that you may have, including:

    • Why start a business in Canada?

    • Which city is best to start a business in Canada?

    • What are the most successful small businesses in Canada?

    Related: How to start an online business from home


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    Why start a business in Canada?

    When thinking about where to set up headquarters for your next entrepreneurial venture, Canada has a lot to offer!

    Reasons for starting a business in Canada may include:

    • The nation’s large population that’s well-educated and draws its heritage from all over the world.

    • Rich in natural resources (and natural beauty!).

    • We welcome workers from all over the world, and many of its most beloved cities are international powerhouses.

    • Excellent support for entrepreneurs (both imported and home-grown).

    • A number of renowned universities and technology institutions.

    • Home to some world-class cities that routinely rank on top ten lists of the best places to live in the world.

    • There is a wide range of government aid that small businesses are encouraged to take advantage of. Some of these include grants, and therefore require no repayment.

    • Its technology scene is on the upswing, so move over Silicon Valley!

    Many companies have taken notice of the perks and advantages that Canada offers and have elected to set up office space in Canada! These companies include, but are not limited to, Google (based out of Ontario’s Kitchener-Waterloo area), Amazon and Microsoft (in Vancouver and Toronto), as well as gaming companies like EA, Bioware, Ubisoft, and Capcom.

    Related: How to register a business in Canada


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    Which city is best to start a business in Canada?

    In 2017, Canada was rated the 7th best country in the world to start a business by Business Insider. But which cities within Canada are the best to set up a business? Let’s find out!

    1. Toronto, Ontario

    Home to a population of 2.8 million people with 230 different nationalities, Toronto is one of if not the most diverse city in the world. As the capital city of Ontario and Canada’s largest city, it is no surprise that Toronto’s metro area is one of the best places in Canada to start a business. It is a hub for the entire country’s financial, commercial, industrial, and tech industries.

    While Toronto is an attractive place for companies in all industries, it is especially well-suited to technology companies. Toronto ranks number one in terms of tech talent with nearly a quarter of a million tech workers on its rosters. Moreover, Toronto is home to between 2,500 and 4,100 active tech startups.

    Toronto is also a great place for entrepreneurs seeking assistance in R&D. Compared with other major startup cities such as Silicon Valley, New York and Boston, the cost of R&D is significantly lower. Moreover, the Canadian government provides refunds on R&D investments. Refunds may be as high as 65% of the R&D cost.

    For these reasons (and more), Toronto is one of the best cities in Canada to start your small business in Ontario.


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    2. Edmonton, Alberta

    When Edmonton is mentioned, the energy sector may be the first industry you think about, and oil certainly plays a massive role in the region’s economy. Even their hockey team is called the Oilers! However, with a rapidly growing city like Edmonton, there’s plenty of room left for small business endeavours.

    Edmonton is a leader in Canada for a number of industries, from digital media and biotechnology to oil and gas. Respected incubators, such as Startup Edmonton and TEC Edmonton, are also operating in the city.

    Moreover, Edmonton has a number of high-quality post-secondary institutions, such as the University of Alberta and NAIT that continually add many highly-skilled employees to the job market.

    However, while Edmonton may enjoy its status as Alberta’s capital, its larger neighbour to the south, Calgary, is likely better known as a place where business gets done.

    Related: How to start a business in Alberta

    3. Calgary, Alberta

    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.

    Not only is there a wide selection of coworking spaces, but Calgary is also home to incubators such as Startup Calgary and Innovate Calgary that give entrepreneurs the support they need.

    Related: Cost of Living in Calgary


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    4. Vancouver, British Columbia

    This rainy city on the west coast is one of the most livable cities in the world. It’s a well-connected international city with stunning natural scenery and a vibrant culture. Vancouver is also one of the biggest and best-known startup centres in Canada, and is called home by world-famous startup companies such as Hootsuite and Slack.

    In fact, Vancouver was ranked has been ranked the fifteenth best city in the world to start a tech company. Factors that no doubt contribute to this are:

    • The high concentration of visual effects and animation studios

    • Home to two of the top six video game franchises

    • One of the world’s top 20 Global Financial Centres

    Related: How to start a business in BC

    The bustling city has also been ranked the best city in the world to start a business. Its high quality of life, relative ease of getting a company off the ground, and good access to office space are just a few of the reasons. Its province of British Columbia also boasts one of the lowest unemployment rates in Canada.

    While the cost of living can be quite high in Vancouver, it is an excellent place to start a small business!

    Related: Cost of Living in Vancouver


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    Are there any other Canadian cities that are great places to start a business?

    While Toronto, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver are all some of the best places to start a business in Canada, there are many more that are equally appealing to startup companies. These include, but are not limited to cities such as Waterloo, Ontario and Montreal, Quebec. With a little research and attention to your company’s unique needs, you’re sure to find the best place to start a small business!

    What are the most successful small businesses in Canada?

    The most successful small businesses in Canada are insured businesses!

    Regardless of the business plan, location, or nature of your business, Small Business Insurance is essential for small business owners. With so many different types of business insurance available, it’s important to make sure you have the right coverage that works for your business. Contact APOLLO Insurance today to speak with one of our advisors and get custom coverage that’s suited to you.


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    Originally published June 27, 2022, updated August 25, 2023

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