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2015 – A Banner Year for Ottawa’s Business Community

Bruce Lazenby
Bruce Lazenby

By Bruce Lazenby, President and CEO, Invest Ottawa

It was a tremendous year for the Nation’s Capital.  There was magnetic energy in the air as our knowledge-based industries saw a level of growth that had been absent in recent years. As December came to a close, nearly 70,000 people were working in more than 1750 technology companies.

Here are some of the key achievements we saw in 2015:

The Most Business Friendly City in the Americas

In October, representatives from the City of Ottawa and our organization attended the International Economic Development Council annual conference to accept a very important award. Last year, Ottawa was crowned the most business friendly, mid-sized city, in the Western Hemisphere by the Financial Times.  It’s the largest regional rankings published by the magazine and is an intensively competitive field. Congratulations to all Ottawa businesses. Your hard work is the reason for this tremendous achievement! 

Shopify Leads the Charge

If there was a banner carrier for the strength of Ottawa’s private sector in 2015, Shopify would be it. The eyes of the world turned to Ottawa when the e-commerce company filed its IPO. Although this had been anticipated for months, it did not quell the excitement of seeing the company’s founding team ring the morning bell at the NYSE.  With Shopify’s success, Ottawa technology companies have now raised more public money than every city in Canada over the last five years, combined. 

Ottawa Day at Queens Park

In the late spring, twenty senior stakeholders from Ottawa’s ecosystem, led by Mayor Jim Watson, travelled to Queen’s Park for face-to-face meetings with six key Cabinet ministers.  The purpose was to show senior provincial decision-makers that Ottawa is a region with world-class opportunity for economic development, and how to better partner with the Ontario government. Our message was clear: Ottawa’s tech sector is strong, experienced and ready to spark innovation. 

Business Bridges to China

November brought a whirlwind of meetings for Ottawa’s Mayor, Jim Watson, Invest Ottawa and fifteen (15) local businesses during our largest ever trade mission to China. Out of the gate, five major agreements were signed with Beijing’s Mayor, Wang Anshun. 

The delegation also met with over 100 Chinese investors and entrepreneurs with specific interests in the wireless, communications and medical devices sectors. In two years, we have organized ten outgoing missions to China, while receiving nearly three dozen incoming delegations. From this, around 120 Ottawa companies have benefited from bilateral trade, investment, and partnership activities.

Becoming Canada’s Innovation Leader 

This summer we studied the state of business innovation in Ottawa. Why? Because by 2018, we want Ottawa to be the most innovative city in Canada, where the most talented people in the world choose to work, play and grow.  Now the results are in and the road map to achieving this has been drawn. Technology is transforming the world, the jobs and the skill set that companies are looking for. It is the major cornerstone of economic growth for our city. More will be announced in the coming months but let’s simply say, our excitement level is immense.

Happy New Year to you all! As always, we would love to hear your thoughts or comments.