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Kanata North rides a perfect storm of opportunity

Thirst for talent speaks to area’s growth and prosperity

The depth and quality of Kanata North’s labour force cannot be denied and yet employers find themselves challenged to find the talent they need fast enough.

Can you say “boom?”

It’s just one more indicator of the resilience, strength and appeal of Kanata North as a great place in which to start and grow a world-class technology company.


According to Jenna Sudds, Executive Director of the Kanata North Business Association, the area is on a growth tear thanks to the intersection of technology, talent and opportunity.

The greatest opportunity lies with 5G – the next-generation wireless communications. The 5G network is crucial to support the growth of smart cities, driverless cars and the Internet of Things.

“When we consider the number of companies taking part in the development of 5G, the multinationals that have chosen Kanata North as their R&D centres and the presence of the CENGN consortium, it really is indicative of the talent that is located here,” Sudds said. “I see endless opportunity.”

Complementing that traditional strength in telecommunications is the growth of other hot sectors like Software-as-a-Service. In fact, software is Kanata North’s fastest growing industry sector, anchored by the L-Spark incubator.

Jenna Sudds, Executive Director of Kanata North Business Association


Algonquin College plays a key role in the growth of Kanata North as a training ground for the talent that growing companies need. President Cheryl Jensen co-chairs a President’s Advisory Panel with Sir Terence Matthews to serve and anticipate local talent needs. Algonquin also recently announced a new $44.9 million Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Learning Centre and Institute for Indigenous Entrepreneurship. This facility is scheduled to open at the Ottawa campus in 2018. 

“We are very fortunate to be a part of a city that believes in this kind of growth,” Jensen said. “Thanks to key partnerships with and input from the Kanata North business community, we are building up our city and our workforce to be among the absolute best in the world.”

National employment agency Adecco Canada has long had a location on March Road in Kanata, to serve the needs of local tech companies. Branch Manager Lorraine Gignac works with Sudds and local HR professionals on the Business Association’s HR Leaders Council. Such collaboration is crucial to address common challenges for employers to attract and retain the talent they need in a fiercely competitive market.

“It’s been a very positive experience helping new companies hire and watching them grow,” Gignac said. “So many cool technologies are coming to Kanata in addition to the ones we already have. People are attracted here, I think, because of the cost of living and the quality of life.” 


Kevin Ford, CEO of Calian Group, is no stranger to the area’s appeal. Calian is a 35-year-old home-grown success.

“It’s a great place to start and grow a technology and professional services company,” he said. “It’s a great place for talent, which I consider a key ingredient for any corporate growth strategy. When you have a mix of great tech companies clustered together it always creates a great dynamic, an energy, and that energy is back in Kanata North. You can see it with established companies and startups alike.”

For Ed Bryant, that dynamic includes the other critical growth ingredient – access to capital. The President and CEO of boutique investment bank Sampford Advisors is positive on the flow of capital into Kanata North.

“I strongly believe in Kanata North,” he said. “It’s an awesome area. If people look at it objectively, this area is the finest tech cluster in Eastern Canada.”

“We are going to see another solid year that will meet or beat last year’s decade-long record,” he said. “Our weak dollar is attracting U.S. attention – American venture capitalists are waking up to the fact that their dollars can go further in Canada.”

But despite all the activity and growth, pockets of prime real estate remain for start-ups and multinationals alike. According to Peter Dooher, owner of commercial real estate firm Merkburn Holdings and past chair of the Business Association, options range from 1,000 square feet to 100,000. And it’s all younger inventory that’s top-notch, with high-speed fibre connectivity, high-capacity power services and superior operational efficiency.

“I strongly believe in Kanata North,” he said. “It’s an awesome area. If people look at it objectively, this area is the finest tech cluster in Eastern Canada.”


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