Waterloo Region Businesses Looking for New Manufacturing & Agri-Food Investments

A recent Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce membership survey identified the auto manufacturing and food processing sectors as priority areas for new investment and employment attraction.

Approximately 20% of the Waterloo Region workforce is currently employed in manufacturing therefore it appears businesses are looking for expansion and the direct and indirect benefits manufacturers provide to the local economy. Other sectors identified as priorities for investment attraction, in order of responses, were engineering, information technology, and health care/pharmaceutical.

An emerging issue for the Waterloo Region – Toronto Corridor is the rising price of housing and the inability for young professionals to move into the market. Responders to the Chamber survey cited the following four reasons as equally important for addressing this issue and ensuring economic opportunities are not lost due to non-affordable housing:

  • Land availability for new housing development;
  • Insufficient supply of detached units;
  • Ontario government land use policies directed to urban intensification; and
  • Excessive municipal and education development charges.

Asked if urban housing prices would drive businesses into rural townships, respondents were equally split between yes and no. The national skills shortage remains a local issue as over half of the respondents indicated they are expecting challenges in securing employees with necessary credentials. Some respondents indicated that the lack of construction trades is a major factor in rising housing costs. Also a chronic shortage of manufacturing trades was cited as a barrier to growth in that industry.

Approximately one-third of respondents agreed that local municipal governments are providing an adequate level of funding for Waterloo Region arts and cultural activities. The termination of the Waterloo Region Creative Enterprises Initiative (CEI) has initiated some discussion regarding future funding models for these programs.

The Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce represents 1,700 employers across one of Canada’s fasted growing innovative regional economics.