Starting a Business in Calgary 

Calgary is a hub of entrepreneurial spirit. Through its business and energy, Calgary has become home to the sixth-highest research-funded university in Canada and a desirable location for the headquarters of major businesses.  Despite the current pandemic, Calgary has retained high levels of locally founded businesses. These small businesses 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 small businesses, which has created a city with the second-highest small business concentration in Canada. Despite the volatility caused by the pandemic, the net change in small businesses 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 Calgary. 


Thriving Industries 

Although branded an oil and gas town, Calgary has quickly grown across industries. From financial services, real estate, agribusiness, and creative industries – Calgary’s growth 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 digital 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 Calgary’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 business entrepreneurs, ensuring that entrepreneurs 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 of business, having strong IT support is critical for business continuity. SysGen’s IT Support creates a seamless experience and ensures that your technology works for your business so you can focus on your mission.  


Calgary by The Numbers 

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


Calgary has a young population with a median age of 37.6 years. It is quickly becoming a hub for diversity in Canada, with more than 120 languages spoken. In addition to the population is higher education, with the third highest post-secondary educational holder in Canada.  

Overall, 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 only growing at an average growth rate of three times as high as the national average, and by 2024 is projected to grow to 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 small businesses in Calgary has increased over the last five years, and this growth was not negated during the pandemic. Calgary is a small business-centric city, with 95% of all businesses classified as such. These small businesses are driving all industries in Calgary, from agriculture to financial services and even 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 only pessimistic. The outlook predicts real GDP growth of about 5 percent for 2022, up from 4.4 percent in a previous estimate and 3.5 percent for 2023. This forecast, coupled with the support infrastructure of Calgary and the entrepreneurial spirit of Calgarian, brings strong optimism to the city as a hub for entrepreneurs starting new businesses.  


Encouraging Business Opportunities in Calgary 

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

From campaigns enticing Calgarians to support local businesses, too, reduction in licensing fees and even 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.

Headshot of Ryan Richardet

Ryan Richardet


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).