Lessons from Kitchener
Google announced recently that it will more than triple its workforce in Canada, growing its presence from 1,500 jobs to 5,000 over the next three years.
The new jobs will come in three places — Montreal, Toronto and Kitchener, Ontario. The first two cities make sense — global metropolises. But why Kitchener — a city whose population of 233,222 is about the same as the Roanoke Valley?
This question becomes more fascinating the more we dig into the numbers. Most of Google’s Canadian jobs are already in Kitchener — 1,000 out of 1,500, according to The Wall Street Journal. And most of its expansion will come in Kitchener, as well — 3,000 of those 5,000 jobs.
What is so special about Kitchener that it’s become a tech hotspot? And if a community the Roanoke Valley’s size in Canada can become a mecca for tech jobs, why not the actual Roanoke Valley? Kitchener’s status as a technopolis isn’t random, and therein lies some lessons for us — some good, some less so.
Here’s a cool, random fact: Roanoke has an arts complex called Center in the Square. Kitchener has one by the same name, except its spelled Centre in the Square.
Some accounts of Google’s expansion reported the new jobs would be in Waterloo, Ontario. Waterloo is the city next door to Kitchener in the same way that Salem is next door to Roanoke. Waterloo is smaller, but more glamorous — so it gets the headlines, even though the actual Google office is on the Kitchener side of the line. In any case, with the nearby city of Cambridge, the whole metro area is 523,894 — so comparable to the combined size of the Roanoke and New River valleys. Still, somehow a community that size has become the Silicon Valley of Canada. How?
The answer is one we’ve heard so many times that you should already have guessed it by now: Universities.
To learn more, check out the whole article below.