Large cities 'punch above their weight' in attracting foreign direct investment to Canada

OTTAWA, May 17, 2012 /CNW/ - Canada's major cities should have a seat at the table in shaping national policies and strategies to attract inward foreign direct investment (FDI), according to a Conference Board of Canada report released today.

Eleven large cities - Halifax, Québec City, Montréal, Ottawa, Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver - make up the newly-incorporated Consider Canada City Alliance Inc. Collectively these cities have a greater share of national inward FDI stock than their share of national GDP.

"The members of the Consider Canada City Alliance are punching above their economic weight in terms of attracting FDI," said Alan Arcand, Principal Economist. "Given their importance in attracting foreign investment, cities have a role to play, along with their national and provincial counterparts, when policies to attract FDI are being developed."

This report, The Role of Canada's Major Cities in Attracting Foreign Direct Investment (, focuses on the importance of developing an FDI attraction strategy involving city-level economic development efforts, along with provincial and national investment promotion activities.

Although most analysis of FDI is conducted at the national level, the lion's share of global investment activity flows through the world's cities. Canada is no exception - a large share of its inward FDI flows through its cities, which implies that a proactive and coordinated effort aimed at attracting FDI could lead to significant benefits, not only for the cities themselves, but for the country as a whole.

At the regional level, several conditions have an impact on the attractiveness of a city for FDI: a highly educated workforce (skills), a high level of spending on R&D (innovation), penetration of new technologies, strong regional clusters (industry specialization), high-quality infrastructure (access), immigration (skills) and a well-functioning investment promotion agency.

The Conference Board's analysis indicates that for at least four of these regional policy factors—education, innovation, information and communications technology penetration, and immigration—the members of the Consider Canada City Alliance outperforms the rest of Canada.

This report was commissioned by the Consider Canada City Alliance Inc., a united group of large Canadian cities that make up more than 50 per cent of Canada's population and economic activity. The Conference Board of Canada was asked to study the role cities play in attracting inward FDI.

The report is publicly available at or through the website of the Conference Board's International Trade and Investment Centre (ITIC) ( Made up of organizations representing both the public and private sector, ITIC helps Canadian leaders better understand what global economic dynamics—such as global and regional supply chains, barriers to trade, U.S. policies, or tighter border security—could mean for public policies and business strategies.

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For further information:

Brent Dowdall, Media Relations, Tel.: 613- 526-3090 ext.  448

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