Sunday , October 17 2021

Places to Live: Kitchener-Waterloo | Toronto Sun

Startups and tech giants change Kitchener-Waterloo

"Our community is rich and smart, "said the Mayor of Waterloo

There was a time when many young and aspiring professionals had to leave Kitchener-Waterloo for a better opportunity. However, that is certainly no longer the case.

You see, this area is now home to a number of technology startups and large technology companies that create jobs and encourage growth at every level. Businesses here are also successful, and they are making big strides in artificial intelligence, IoT (Internet of Things), drones, smart marketing, space manufacturing, bionics, not to mention wearable devices.

Earlier this year Google opened the Kitchener room and promised $ 2.1 million for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs for youth in the area. BlackBerry Limited (formerly known as Research in Motion) is headquartered in Waterloo and they recently reported revenues of $ 1,309 billion.

We Are Waterloo, the economic development business support division, shows that technology startups and technology giants employ more than 30,000 technology professionals, and that even more interesting is that the Kitchener-Waterloo technology scene is now the second fastest growing market in the entire North. America, right behind Charlotte, North Carolina.

"This is all things technology." here, that's for sure, "said Christina Hackett, a local who runs a popular vape shop in Waterloo.

He was only in his early 20s, had his own place, and enjoyed the fact that he did not have to move to another city to get a job.

"I have a permanent job, thanks to all technology companies, "he explained. "Our region is now a major technology center that creates endless opportunities. I am very happy to work where I was born and raised. It's a good place and everyone is very friendly. Even night life is fun now and that has never been the case. "

While in Kitchener, Lisa McDonald, who operates The Sign Depot, said the technology boom was very positive news.

"We make signs, all kinds, and technology businesses need them too, "he laughed. "Over the past few years we have seen an increase in business with all new technology ventures open. We like it and so do the locals: the big explosion that is happening right now is extraordinary for the local economy. "

With a population of more than 500,000, Kitchener-Waterloo is growing rapidly, and the area is only about an hour's drive to downtown Toronto. The two cities, which have separate city governments, are located in the Waterloo Regional Municipality. The region also consists of Cambridge and the cities of Wellesley, Woolwich, Wilmot, and North Dumfries.

Kitchener-Waterloo has long been a unique community. The western region and Mennonite land are inhabited by people from a German background from Pennsylvania, and the southern region and river still resemble the Scottish-Celtic tradition of settlers more than a century ago.

"Our community is rich and smart," said Waterloo Mayor Dave Jaworsky. "Waterloo is the Canadian education city & # 39; because we have three well-known institutions of higher learning here – University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University, and University of Conestoga – all of which offer world-class programs. Every year, hundreds of students graduate from well-known institutions and technology companies here greatly appreciate the fact that they have access to a dynamic collection of talents. "

Jaworsky said that growth was happening quickly here. The following spring the region will have its own Light Rail Transit (LRT) system that will drive more people around efficiently, and Uptown Waterloo will see more condominiums built.

"Uptown will see some changes and that gets better. We are building and not going out; we will intensify and we will not be scattered. Our Uptown will be very compact and will provide accessibility for everyone, and streetscape will include LED lighting that can be changed for special occasions, such as lighting at the CN Tower. "

Waterloo was recently awarded the Allocation of the Gold-Level Bicycle Driving Community of the Road Cycling Sharing Coalition, and the city has acquired the World International Network (WHO) of Age-Friendly City Designations.

"Waterloo is a special place and has many things to offer to people of all ages," Jaworsky said. "This is a dynamic place and people down to earth and it is a place that encourages lifelong learning that has helped rediscover who we are as a city."

Berry Vrbanovic, who is Mayor of Kitchener, was also pleased to see all the growth happening.

"Our region has been blessed to have three amazing post-secondary institutions and this plays a big role in helping shape the evolving technology and innovation sector," Vrbanovic said.

He said that construction in Kitchener was due to all new technology companies moving in. Many abandoned manufacturing buildings and warehouses are now being converted into office space for new businesses.

"The recession is destroying our manufacturing industry, but it is a blessing in disguise," he explained. "We are now embracing technology trends and we are moving in a new direction … we are developing and we want to stay like this. The more companies we have here means more work and that is good for the economy. "

Vrbanovic stressed that transportation problems should be a major concern for everyone and dealt with quickly. At present, there are four GO trains departing in the morning to Toronto and four trains returning at night.

"We need more GO-and-from-Toronto trains," he said. "I even like the idea of ​​high speed rail. After our transportation problems were solved, it will be the brand corridor of Kitchener-Waterloo-Toronto as Silicon Valley of Canada. "

The two mayors stressed that life here was also very pleasant.

The area transports many handicrafts and distillation plants, coffee shops, restaurants, farmers markets, and live theater and performances throughout the year. The area also offers many cycling and walking trails for those who enjoy the outdoors, as well as sports and recreational facilities.

Some important events include the Kitchener-Waterloo Octoberfest, the nine-day annual festival which is billed as the second largest in the world. Then there is the TD Kitchener Blues Festival and Uptown Waterloo Jazz Festival. Throughout the year, the city hosts many cultural events, and the pride of the local hometown is alive and well in all Kitchener Rangers' home matches.

"The quality of life here is extraordinary and you have so many good choices, "Vrbanovic said. "Our LRT will immediately get you around and there are no shortcomings to do."

Jaworsky echoed his view. "Here you can have an urban experience or a rural experience – this is the best of both worlds affordable compared to other cities in the GTA. Our region is a good place and this is why our population continues to grow. We offer exceptional quality of life and we are at the end of the road from Toronto. "

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