Edmonton’s tech sector labour force grew by more than 50 per cent over five years, the largest increase in North America, as the city cracked CBRE’s top 50 markets for the first time.
According to the real estate organization’s annual Scoring Tech Talent report released Tuesday, Edmonton is the 38th ranked city in North America for the ability to attract and grow talent in the technology industry. This is the first time Edmonton scored in the top 50 thanks to 12,000 added jobs since 2015, and with a total market of 34,500 tech jobs in 2020. Edmonton scored eighth out of Canadian cities, not far behind Quebec City and Calgary, ranked 34th and 28th respectively.
CBRE Edmonton managing director Dave Young said the report is reflective of the hard work being done by entrepreneurs in Edmonton to get their tech companies off the ground and the talent coming from the University of Alberta’s artificial intelligence research.
“I think the tech infrastructure and ecosystem here is outstanding and I really believe the fact that we can leverage the U of A as a key resource will be a very important asset to have as we grow that tech infrastructure and ecosystem in the future,” Young said in an interview with Postmedia Wednesday. “I think it’s as important now as its ever been to leverage those assets we have right across the river. I think employers will benefit from having a world-class centre of excellence in artificial intelligence within an LRT ride from the Downtown core.”
Edmonton is an ideal spot for growing tech companies, Young said, noting the availability of a young, educated labour force as well as relatively inexpensive office and residential real estate. Setting up shop in Edmonton is cheaper than any U.S. market with a 500-person tech company leasing 75,000 square feet of office space costing about $45.4 million a year, the report found.
“There’s a cost advantage to being in Alberta. You look at residential housing prices or rental rates that are being achieved, I think there’s a very effective and efficient way for people to live, work and play in the city and we need to capitalize on that,” Young said. ‘The big thing in general is we just need to get people back into the core of our city to make sure there’s that vibrancy here.”
The annual CBRE report card analyzes 13 factors to measure a city’s ability to attract and develop tech talent including tech graduation rates, the labour pool size as well as labour and real estate costs.