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Tech hubs in smaller cities gaining traction as companies hunt for labour

The undo send button is shown on a Gmail account as employees work on their computers in Toronto on Wednesday, June 24, 2015. Gmail has implemented a new feature that allows people to undo a sent email. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

A new report says Toronto still dominates Canada’s tech scene, but smaller markets are making inroads as companies compete to find talent.

The report by real estate services firm CBRE notes that while Toronto’s tech talent pool grew by 54 per cent between 2013 and 2018, numerous smaller cities like Hamilton, Guelph, and Regina also notched strong gains.

Paul Morassutti, vice-chairman of CBRE Canada, says both established companies and startup firms are starting to understand there is a significant pool of untapped tech talent elsewhere in the country.

He says securing talent is the biggest concern for tech companies, so rising office costs aren’t a concern to stay in the major markets.

But smaller cities are attracting companies and investment by creating specialized hubs like artificial intelligence in Montreal and Edmonton, automotive in Hamilton and Oshawa, Ont., and ocean-focused tech in Halifax.

The report ranks Toronto, which added 80,100 tech jobs in the five-year period, as the top tech city overall. Ottawa, which lost 3,600 workers, was ranked second, while Vancouver, which added 22,300 workers was ranked third.

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