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Can I See You in My Office?

City of Regina. Photo provided by Tourism Regina.
City of Regina. Photo provided by Tourism Regina.

Company Headquarters Have Major Impact

In our new series, Can I See You in My Office, we’re looking at head offices and the economic benefits they provide to both municipal and provincial economies.

Google. The company has come a long way since its start in a garage in Menlo Park, California in 1998. It’s the number one search engine in the world, the owner of YouTube (the second-most visited website on the planet) and is involved in more technology that you can possibly imagine. It also has more than 70 offices in 50 countries.1

The Google Mountain View headquarters is home to approximately 23,000 of the more than 50,000 full-time Google employees in California, and Google is now the city of Mountain View’s largest employer.2 That is a lot of people, a lot of jobs, and a massive economic impact for the city, which is sandwiched between Palo Alto and Santa Clara in the Silicon Valley.

Not every company can be a Google and not every city can have a Google—but municipalities need to consider the economic gains that occur when head offices are located within them.

Head Offices in Canada

Census metropolitan area/Province Number of Head Offices Number of Jobs
Toronto 698 76,731
Montreal 385 42,462
Vancouver 242 16,261
Calgary 212 29,251
Edmonton 117 5,961
Winnipeg 95 7,643
Ottawa-Gatineau 67 7,599
Quebec City 57 7,030
Saskatchewan 83 6,078
Reference: Annual Head Office Survey, 2018. Statistics Canada.

According to Statistics Canada, in 2018 there were 2,737 head offices across the country employing 228,291 people.3

Toronto leads the way in the number of head offices with 698, followed by Montreal with 385. Vancouver is third at 242, and Calgary follows at 212. One province over—with a similar population base to Saskatchewan—Manitoba has 111 head offices, with 95 based in Winnipeg. Saskatchewan has 83 head offices—12 less than the city of Winnipeg alone.

Why It Matters

Head offices are attractive and sought after for many reasons. Employment, of course, is the first reason head offices are important to municipal economies. However, there are benefits beyond local jobs and the tax base jobs create. Head offices attract more business activity where they are located because the business community grows around the nucleus head offices create. For example, professional services such as accounting, finance and law firms form near the clients they serve. From there, other businesses grow—everything from restaurants and retail, to hotels and hair salons—that provide goods and services to head office staff.

A city’s image is also lifted as head office presence grows. Calgary Economic Development recognizes the value that head offices play in the city’s reputation as a business centre. The number of energy companies located there has solidified Calgary’s brand as an energy leader.4

Business Council of British Columbia closely watches the head office statistics for B.C., because they also understand the value that head offices bring to municipalities. They have noted that Vancouver, despite having 242 head offices, is still considered a “minnow” in North America based on the number of firms based in the region.5

If Vancouver, with 242 head offices is still a “minnow”, what does that make the entire province of Saskatchewan?

Coming Next

In the next part of our series coming in our Winter 2021 issue, we’ll take a look at how other municipalities are attracting new or relocating businesses.

References:

 1,2Google Economic Impact, Google, https://economicimpact.google.com/
3Head offices and head office employment, Statistics Canada, https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1/en/tv.action?pid=3310011001
4Fact Sheet: Calgary Head Offices, Calgary Economic Development, https://calgaryeconomicdevelopment.com/dmsdocument/264
5Statistics Canada’s Annual Head Office Survey, Business Council of British Columbia, https://bcbc.com/insights-and-opinions/statistics-canadas-annual-head-office-survey#:~:text=Among%20CMAs%2C%20Toronto%20has%20the,)%20and%20Calgary%20(213).