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Starting a Business in Edmonton
Edmonton, the capital city of Alberta, is a hub for the province’s cultural, educational, and governmental processes. With a population of roughly 1.4 million, the city is a standout option for entrepreneurs looking to launch a new venture. Edmonton is an ideal market that specializes in supporting the growing community of small local businesses.
Alongside Calgary, the Alberta capital has been a leader in energy extraction, driving the Canadian economy for decades. But opportunities in Edmonton for entrepreneurs are not limited to this sector. Through its growing population, supportive infrastructure, and commitment to businesses, the city is rich in opportunities for entrepreneurs.
Plenty of Opportunities in Edmonton
In addition to energy, Edmonton industries are thriving across sectors. Agriculture, manufacturing, advanced technology, financial services, and tourism, to name a few, are forceful gears in the economy, driving the city to become a center for business and a haven for entrepreneurs looking for a supportive movement to start their enterprises.
The focus on the energy industry has created a spillage effect, driving new industries’ transformation and resurgence, creating numerous opportunities.
Regarding tourism, Edmonton’s geographic proximity to Jasper is a major source of attraction. Coupled with the largest shopping mall in North America, West Edmonton Mall, the area is a central destination for tourists looking to experience Canada, its natural beauty, and city life.
Another thriving industry in Edmonton is technology and it’s growing at an incredible rate. Many of the startups in this sector were supported by infrastructure provided by the municipal government.
In 2021, the largest growing industry was a combination of the agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting segment, increasing by 6.38% overall. The current count of companies in Edmonton is dominated by small businesses (those with 49 or few employees). While these numbers suffered losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the reduction was less than 1%, compared to large businesses at a 5% reduction and medium-sized businesses at 6%. Small businesses possess the agility and a willingness to survive through difficult times, and when coupled with supportive infrastructure, and a welcoming community, the vast majority can endure and continue to remain profitable despite the pandemic.
Solid Infrastructure in Edmonton
Since 2018, Edmonton has been working to improve its infrastructure and optimize it for business. The city worked to develop a comprehensive vision for the coming decades to plan land use, transportation, and social and economic development focused on supporting economic growth.
A key piece of this infrastructure is the city’s one-on-one business support program, a gateway program for entrepreneurs looking to set up a business in Edmonton. The program streamlines the business setup process, giving business owners a single point of contact to access resources, benefits, and support to navigate the process. Across Canada, 40% of all small businesses close within a year. To mitigate this statistic across Edmonton, the city introduced the one-on-one business support program. The program offers serval initiatives, including grants and support programs, all to streamline business creation processes. The program has, since 2016, helped over 3,300 business owners.
Alongside support programs, The City of Edmonton offers a range of grant opportunities to support businesses. These funds have diverse purposes, including some to encourage businesses to support the vibrancy and culture of their communities through art murals, and others are tailored to supporting businesses within designated Business Improvement Areas. For example, corner store grants directly support businesses meeting local community needs, along with revitalization funding and funding for the initiative that supports the economic action plan of the municipal government.
Edmonton’s municipalities are heavily invested in the success of small businesses. The creation of Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) which are specific areas of the city where businesses pool resources and work to enhance the economic development of their area is generating more business. Within the city, there are 13 business improvement areas, which include more than 3,900 business members. In 2020, a total contribution value of $434.4M was invested in the revitalization of the BIAs.
In addition to the programs and plans by the municipal government to support enterprises, entrepreneurs can look to the low cost of doing business in Edmonton. The city was ranked by KPMG as having the second lowest businesses cost among North American cities in its population class. Alberta has no provincial retail sales tax, no provincial capital taxes, no payroll taxes, and the lowest gasoline tax among Canadian provinces.
Edmonton’s Economic Action Plan is a 10-year strategic plan created by the city to foster a sustainable, vibrant, and inclusive economy. The central goals of this plan are to build a resilient economy and create jobs through the creation of new businesses. To achieve this, a key principle of the plan is to support new and established companies, and entrepreneurs to thrive in the new economy. With this comes the reduction of red tape which creates an agile business environment with reduced regulatory processes and bureaucracy. For entrepreneurs, this policy creates a place where when time is of the essence in launching a new business, the process is streamlined and supports a fast-paced environment.
Edmonton by The Numbers
Trailing only slightly behind Calgary, Edmonton is the second-largest city in Alberta and the fifth-largest city in Canada. With a population of roughly 1.2 million, Edmonton is growing by an average rate of 2.46% over the last 10 years.
Edmonton is a highly diverse and young population, with an average age of 37 across many ethnic and cultural groups. Besides its local population, four million people visit Edmonton annually. Many of these visitors come to see Jasper National Park, the largest of its kind, or West Edmonton Mall, a long-time tourism magnet.
Small Businesses on The Rise
Edmonton is home to thousands of thriving small businesses. In 2021, 94.7% of businesses in the city were classified as small businesses, this number has increased by 0.30% year-over-year and increased 0.53% in the last five years. Despite the impacts of the pandemic and inflation, small businesses in Edmonton can survive, thrive, and adapt to a changing marketplace.
Strong GDP Growth in Edmonton
The resilience of small businesses shows through in major economic indications, as Edmonton is slated to grow the fastest of all Canadian metropolitan cities after the pandemic with its GDP increasing at 11.2% for 2021 overall. The long-term forecast is also optimistic, with the GDP estimated to grow by 5% over time.
Edmonton’s economic environment is cost-competitive for businesses. With no provincial sales taxes and extremely low corporate tax rates, Edmonton is an ideal market for entrepreneurs looking to start a company. The first half of 2022 has proved promising for the city’s economy, with regional employment increasing, and unemployment rates dropping below 6%.
Encouraging Business Opportunity in Edmonton
Small businesses and local entrepreneurs are the foundation of Edmonton’s economy, creating a vibrant community that supports and plays an active role in all industries across various sectors. This also creates abundant employment and flourishing communities. In the digital age, the opportunities for entrepreneurs are seemingly endless. With home-based businesses, entirely virtual businesses, or classic brick-and-mortar stores, Edmonton has created an environment tailored to support entrepreneurs.
Regardless of the business model, your adaptability as an entrepreneur is a critical element in your business’s success, and so is proactive and efficient IT. With SysGen’s Managed IT Services, you can allow your small business to leverage technology in the best way, ensuring that while you take advantage of the Edmonton atmosphere, your IT is making room for continuity and optimization.