Starting a Business in Calgary 

Calgary is a hub of entrepreneurial spirit. Through its business and energy, the city has become home to the sixth-highest research-funded university in Canada and a desirable location for the headquarters of major companies. Despite the pandemic, Calgary has retained high levels of locally founded businesses. These small companies have the flexibility to adapt to the volatile and changing market conditions that we have seen over the past few years.


Great Opportunity in Calgary 

Calgary is an innovative city. It is the first and only municipality in Canada to allow small businesses to be started entirely online. The Calgarian infrastructure is tailored to bolster these companies, which has created an area with the second-highest small business concentration in Canada. Despite the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, the net change in these enterprises in Calgary was less than a 1% reduction.

The City of Calgary actively champions the growth of new businesses, setting up the Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund to distribute $100 million to companies supporting catalytic innovation and growth in critical sectors. This fund is just one of the many incentives created to bring entrepreneurs to the largest city in Alberta.


Thriving Industries 

Although branded an oil and gas town, Calgary has quickly grown across various categories. From financial services, real estate, agribusiness, and creative industries — Calgary’s expansion is not limited to the energy sector. Opportunities are rising. Digital transformation is on the rise, and Calgary businesses are slated to spend $7.5 billion across industries on this transformation from 2021 to 2024.

Alberta has long been a hub for the agricultural industry, and agribusiness possesses a significant opportunity. Calgary is becoming a leader in primary production, protein development, agtech innovation, animal health, and food safety and traceability, making this region a new hotspot for Canadian and global food and technology suppliers. Businesses across diverse industries are suited to the city’s energy and entrepreneurial spirit.


Solid Infrastructure to Support Your SME 

The municipal government supports the high ratio of SMEs in Calgary, which has worked to build infrastructure and policy to support the thriving small businesses that emerge.

The city has created committees that amplify the voices and needs of local entrepreneurs, ensuring that they can cut past the red tape and streamline the process to reduce the time and money needed to start and run a business in Calgary.

Entrepreneurs and small businesses are constantly bootstrapping to make every resource available count, and because of this, many SMEs do not have in-house IT support. But in the digital age, having strong IT support is critical for business continuity. SysGen’s Managed IT Services create a seamless experience, ensuring that your technology works for your business so you can focus on your mission.


Calgary by The Numbers 

While the area is known for its ebbs and flows in the economic cycle, entrepreneurs can be optimistic about the prospects of Calgary, with GDP increasing by 5.1% in the past year totaling $323.1B, and unemployment dropping by 3.7%. The city is a central hub for innovation and entrepreneurial activity and has the population to support it.


Calgary has a young population with a median age of 37.6 years. It is quickly becoming a center for diversity in Canada, with more than 120 languages spoken. In addition, residents are increasingly educated, and the city is the third highest post-secondary educational holder in Canada.

The population of Calgary is 1.2 million (1,239,220), making it the third-largest city in Canada and the largest in Alberta. Its population is growing at an average growth rate of three times as high as the national average, and by 2024 is projected to be inhabited by 2.4 million people.

Small Businesses on The Rise 

Despite the impact of the pandemic, Calgary’s small business market is thriving and the concentration of these companies in the city has increased over the last five years. This growth was not negated during the pandemic. Calgary is a small business-centric city, with 95% of all enterprises classified as such. These companies are driving all industries in Calgary, from agriculture to financial services, and the energy sector. Therefore, small businesses are undoubtedly the heart of Calgary and the perfect place for entrepreneurs to set up shop.

Promising GDP Growth in Calgary 

While there is a looming discussion of inflation and recession, the outlook in Calgary is not pessimistic. Many predict  GDP growth of about 5% for 2022, up from 4.4% in a previous estimate, and 3.5% for 2023. This forecast, coupled with the support infrastructure of Calgary and the entrepreneurial spirit of Calgarians, brings strong optimism to the city for entrepreneurs looking to start new businesses.


Encouraging Business Opportunities in Calgary 

Calgary is an ideal market for launching a new venture. With a young and growing population, the demand for diverse companies in this area can only grow. However, in the age of digital business, entrepreneurs must have robust IT processes and management to ensure success. This can be difficult with a new business. Having a dedicated team to optimize and manage IT and digital processes may seem out of reach. For this reason, small enterprises need to employ a managed services provider that works proactively to anticipate and solve issues. At the critical stages of a startup, you need to be able to ensure business continuity and efficiency.

From campaigns enticing Calgarians to support local businesses, to a reduction in licensing fees, and significant investment funds to attract and support economic growth, diversification, and increased employment. Calgary is a major center for entrepreneurs to start businesses and see them succeed.

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Headshot of Ryan Richardet

Ryan Richardet

President, CEO

Ryan Richardet is the President of SysGen Solutions Group and is the Chair of Datto's Advisory Board; supporting growth by providing strategic advice based on his experience as an owner of a large IT services provider in Western Canada. Ryan holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Royal Roads University (2016) and a Bachelor of Biological Science with Distinction from the University of Calgary (2008).