A city on the shores of Lake Ontario is quickly becoming one of Eastern Ontario’s go-to spots to launch a business, partner with a post-secondary school and grow a family.
Kingston is home to a lively downtown core, bustling business sector and growing residential communities. With burgeoning entrepreneurial programs and an ambitious housing plan, the city is an increasingly popular destination for families and business owners looking to put down roots.
As one of the province’s most historically significant cities – Kingston was the original capital of Upper Canada – the area has always attracted its share of visitors. In recent years however, the city has seen a surge of new business crop up, in part because of its strategic location and close relationship with local colleges and universities.
Kingston is home to three major post-secondary institutions: St. Lawrence College, Queen’s University and the Royal Military College of Canada. The constant influx of graduates and students makes the region a hotbed for emerging talent, says Shelley Hirstwood, a business development officer for the Kingston Economic Development Corp.
“We have a really good foundation for students looking to be entrepreneurs,” she says. “Kingston is home to many unique incubators and accelerator programs, which creates the infrastructure we need to support and grow these businesses.”
The area is equipped with ample space for entrepreneurs to set up shop, as well as a growing number of co-working spaces for those seeking more flexibility.
For companies that need a larger footprint, the city also owns four shovel-ready industrial parks, which currently house some of Kingston’s growing manufacturing firms, such as Cancoil, Tim Hortons Distribution Centre, Frulact and Canada Royal Milk.
“We pride ourselves on being a concierge service, helping with everything from the site selection process, to navigating zoning and site planning process,” says Hirstwood. “We’re there every step of the way.”
She adds that while business opportunities may attract professionals to Kingston, it’s the city’s livability that often turns them into long-term residents.
Kingston’s younger residents add vibrancy to the city, especially in the downtown core where live music is always within earshot. Kingston is filled with great restaurants and local shops to check out, but also has direct access to waterways and hiking trails for those looking to spend their time outdoors.
With so much interest in the area, the city has a goal of supporting future growth. It has laid out an aggressive housing plan, aiming to have 1,000 new homes built every year over the next three years to cement its place as an affordable, smart city.
“It’s really positive that the council is very progressive and aggressive and making sure that we have the infrastructure needed both residentially and commercially,” adds Hirstwood. “Kingston really is a place for business and a place for talent, and it’s all strengthening Eastern Ontario.”