Today’s economic climate is a combination of many factors. Local, regional, national and international events all contributing to shaping our city’s overall wellbeing. This article will discuss where Vancouver falls in The Economists livability index, touch on real GDP per capita growth compared to the national average, look at the top three sectors that have seen the highest growth in the last two decades. Two companies in Vancouver that have bolstered using Vancouver as a home base will be looked at and lastly we will highlight the beautiful new Microsoft office downtown and take a look the key factors that are contributing to this robust tech culture.
Beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia. Located on the south western tip of Canada, the Metro Vancouver area is home to over 2.5 million residents. By 2041 the population is expected to grow substantially to 3.4 million. Undoubtedly a beautiful city, it offers amazing activities that are spaced so close together, you could be skiing in the afternoon on Cypress Mountain and down by the beach for dinner and drinks later in the evening. It’s no wonder the city is ranked 3rd most livable city in the world. This is measured through the Economist’s five broad categories of Stability, Healthcare, Culture and environment, Education and Infrastructure. Vancouver at number three was rated at 97.3 out of 100. Bested only by Vienna, Austria at 97.4 and Melbourne, Australia at 97.5. As we can see, it’s a narrow margin that the top three are working in.
Despite the unstable commodities market over the last two years, Vancouver has held up quite well. Over the past five years Metro Vancouver’s real GDP per capita growth was 1.9%, 0.5% above the national average. They have attributed this growth to ties with Asia and strong foreign investment.
Taking a look at British Columbia’s broader growth sectors from 1997-2014, we have seen tremendous growth in several areas. The most impressive average annual growth has been seen in software (15.7%), waste management (8.9%) and IT (7.7%). Software has grown amazingly, even cracking the #20 spot in Techvibes ranked Top Twenty Tech Markets in North America. One of the great success stories out of Vancouver was Hootsuite, started in 2008 by Ryan Holmes. This social media management tool has grown from basic support of just a couple platforms to now supporting all the major social media channels with a user base of more than 10 million. In late 2014, Hootsuite secured additional funding, with a valuation of $1 Billion. This has paved the way for new companies and new growth in the GVRD.
According to Vancitybuzz, much of the $23.5 billion in revenue created through 9,000 companies is centered in Metro Vancouver (2015). Take Riipen for example, they’re a unique company based out of Vancouver that seeks to connect students with companies looking to complete short-term, skill specific projects. Although there has been hurdles, as with any business, Rippen is really taking off with major companies using and supporting there platform such as: Hootsuite, Sun Life, Vancouver Economic Commission and the Vancouver Whitecaps FC amongst others.
Another company that has changed the way business is done is Indochino. According to ProfitGuide they’ve seen 1,187% growth over 2010-2015 stretch. With 167 employees they’ve created a major name for themselves in the custom suit market. Unlike most business who are brick and mortar, starting with a physical business and then developing an online presence, Indochino has done the complete opposite. They’ve taken an online presence and developed a personalized storefront in 10 major cities in North America. Their Vancouver brick and mortar location can be found at 1014 Homer St. in Vancouver. This reversal in the business model has revenues for Indochino state at $20-50 million US in 2015.
Tech is strong here in Vancouver and companies are starting to take advantage of top talent coming out of schools like BCIT, SFU and UBC. It’s not just technology start-ups in Vancouver however. Major tech companies like Microsoft have chosen to make Vancouver there home as well. Just recently Microsoft has opened a new office at the corner of Granville and Georgia in downtown Vancouver. The space is phenomenal. It’s got a west coast theme, 360 degree views a strikingly warm feeling for such a big space. Microsoft has employed several hundred people at the office, further fueling the sectors overall growth.
More and more successful businesses are being built every day. This is attributed to many factors, one of which being post-secondary schools. Institutions like BCIT offer an Entrepreneurship program that is designed to facilitate the growth of a new business. Utilizing case studies and real world practicums, this program is designed for today’s environment. Although formal education is adapting, another major factor is the amount of free resources online. Kahn Academy and EdX are invaluable resources providing free education to the masses. EdX is tied in with the most highly regarded academic institutions including Harvard, MIT, and UC Berkley. But it’s not just American universities that are offering free courses. The University of British Columbia is doing it too. Here is a self-paced Introduction to Marketing course offered by professors Darren Dahl and Paul Cubbon. These types of courses help spawn innovation for those that may not have the financial means or the time to complete formal education. All of these factors have led to the start-up culture and successful tech industry that Metro Vancouver enjoys today.
Having analyzed Vancouver’s economic climate and strong technology market, we can be reasonably certain that Vancouver will continue to grow as the business’ requirements change and the way people do business evolves.