Companies in Kanata North are growing rapidly and scaling up revenues, but traffic congestion and competition for talented staff threaten to hinder that growth if left unchecked, according to a new study.
The study, performed by Ottawa-based Doyletech Corp., found that the park’s total economic impact on Canada’s GDP was $13 billion, a 66 per cent increase over the $7.8 billion reported in 2015, when then-executive director of the Kanata North Business Association Jenna Sudds spearheaded the first review of Kanata North’s economic impact.
Doyletech used a database of companies in the park and interviews with 40 companies to complete the study, gathering information such as employment numbers, product offerings and a broadly defined measurement of “revenue.”
Kanata North is home to R&D outposts for many multinational firms. These offices typically do not generate revenues directly, so Doyletech counted the budget allocated to these local operations by head office to account for the value generated by the R&D work done in Kanata North.
“These are big companies, and the research that Kanata North is doing is vital to those companies’ interest,” said Doyletech partner Rick Clayton.
The report found a nine per cent increase in jobs in Kanata North, as well as 30 per cent revenue growth and 13 per cent more companies, over the past three years. The park’s anchor sectors – telecommunications, wireless and photonics – collectively saw revenues jump 95 per cent. Elsewhere, cleantech – a sector comprised of just nine companies, according to Doyletech – saw revenues increase 146 per cent and an employee numbers climb 119 per cent.
Veronica Farmer, KNBA’s operations manager, attributed this in part to Clearford Water Systems, which boosted revenues and employment numbers in 2018 due to a series of acquisitions.
Business leaders say that growth can be felt in day-to-day life in the park.
“We can feel it. We can see it,” said Farmer. “We see more companies announcing themselves.”
However, it’s also felt in ways that present new challenges. With close to 3,000 new employees in the park since 2015, traffic congestion on streets such as March Road has never been so bad, the KNBA said. Addressing traffic congestion and improving public transit service is an area that Sudds, who was sworn in as the area’s city councillor this month, has pledged to tackle.
The report also calculated the amount of taxes generated by Kanata North for all levels of government. Thanks in part to the area’s dramatic growth, it’s risen 16 per cent municipally, 40 per cent provincially and 47 per cent federally over the past three years.
“We need a little bit of it back,” said KNBA board chair and Mitel’s corporate diversity officer and vice-president of strategic communications Amy MacLeod at a Thursday morning presentation. “We need infrastructure. We need investment in our transportation.”
As well, the need for tech talent is stronger than ever, Farmer said. She said traffic and talent will be key to continuing the growth highlighted in the study, adding she sees a strong argument for the provincial and federal governments to fund improvements such as traffic infrastructure.
“If we don’t do this, we’re going to lose … momentum,” said Farmer.