Starting a business in Edmonton

Starting a Business in Edmonton 

Edmonton, the capital city of Alberta, is a hub for the province’s cultural, education and governmental processes. With a population of roughly 1.4 million, Edmonton is a standout option for entrepreneurs looking to launch a new business. Edmonton is the ideal market that specializes in supporting the growing community of small local businesses. 

Edmonton, alongside Calgary, has long been a leader in energy extraction driving the Canadian economy for decades. But opportunities in Edmonton for entrepreneurs are not limited to the energy sector. Through its growing population, supportive infrastructure, and commitment to businesses, Edmonton is rich in opportunities for entrepreneurs. 

 

Plenty of Opportunities in Edmonton 

Thriving Industries 

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 Edmonton to be a hub for business and a haven for entrepreneurs looking for a supportive movement to start new businesses.

The focus on the energy industry has created a spillage effect, driving new industries’ transformation and resurgence, creating an opportunity ripple effect.  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 Edmonton is a central destination for tourists looking to experience Canada, its natural beauty, and city life.  Another thriving industry in Edmonton is technology, growing at an incredible rate. Many of the startups in this industry were supported by the infrastructure provided by the municipal government. 

In 2021, the largest growing sector was the agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting segment, growing by 6.38% overall. The current count of businesses 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% as 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 community the vast majority can endure and continue to remain profile despite a global 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 based on supporting businesses and 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 the support programs, The City of Edmonton offers a range of grant programs to support businesses. These grants have diverse purposes some to encourage businesses to support the vibrancy and culture of their communities through art mural grants, but others are tailored to supporting businesses within designated Business Improvement Areas, corner store grants that directly support businesses meeting local community needs, along with revitalization funding and fund for the initiative that supports the economic action plan of the municipal government.  

Edmonton’s municipal government is heavily invested in the success of small businesses. Through the creation of Business Improvement Areas (BIA) which are specific areas of the city where businesses pool resources and work to enhance the economic development of their area, generating more business. In Edmonton, there are 13 business improvement areas, with over 3,900 businesses that are members of the initiative. In 2020, the total contribution value of the project was $434.4M invested in the revitalization of the BIAs. 

In addition to the programs and plans by the municipal government to support businesses, 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 businesses, and entrepreneurs to thrive in the new economy. With this comes the reduction of red tape, to create an agile business environment, with reduced regulatory processes and bureaucracy. For entrepreneurs, their policy creates an environment, where when time is of the essence in launching a new business, the process is streamlined and supports the fast-paced business environment. 

 

Edmonton by The Numbers   

Demographics 

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 with an average growth rate of 2.46% over the last 10 years since 2011.  Edmonton is a highly diverse and young population, with an average age of 37 across many ethnic and cultural groups. Besides its local population, 4 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 Edmonton 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 the 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 growing at 11.2% for 2021 overall. The long-term forecast is also optimistic with GDP estimated to grow by 5% overall.  

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 Entrepreneur’s looking to start a business. The first half of 2022 has proved promising for Edmonton’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 the Edmonton economy, creating a vibrant community that supports and plays an active role in all industries across all sectors. This also creates abundant employment and community. In the digital age, the opportunities for entrepreneurs are endless, with home-based businesses, entirely virtual businesses, or classic brick-and-mortar stores, Edmonton has created a business environment tailored to support entrepreneurs.  

Regardless of the business model, you adapt as an entrepreneur, a critical element in your business’s success is proactive and efficient IT. With SysGen’s Managed IT Services, you can ensure that your small business is leveraging technology in the best way, ensuring that while you take advantage of the Edmonton atmosphere, your IT is ensuring continuity and optimization.  

Headshot of Ryan Richardet

Ryan Richardet

President

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).