Economic Performance and Growth

CIBC World Markets (CIBCWM) Metropolitan Economic Activity Index
“The CIBCWM Metropolitan Economic Activity Index is a measure designed to assess the relative performance of Canada’s major cities using yearly changes for nine key macroeconomic variables and drivers of economic growth.

The macro variables used to develop the index are: (1) Population growth, (2) Employment growth, (3) Unemployment rate, (4) Full-time share in total employment, (5) Personal bankruptcy rate, (6) Business bankruptcy rate, (7) Housing starts, (8) MLS Housing resales, and (9) Non-Residential building permits.

For any given city, the index provides a consistent base for comparison with other cities and/or with the aggregate performance of all other Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs).”
Note: the St. Catharines-Niagara CMA does not include Grimsby and West Lincoln.

The below table is based on 3rd Quarter 2012 statistics. The index rates St. Catharines-Niagara’s economic performance 21st out of 25 major CMAs (census metropolitan areas) in Canada.

cibcwm metropolitan economic activity index

Source: CIBC Economics Metro Markets, January 2013
Retrieved From:

Niagara Region’s Economic Growth Strategy 2013-2015
Niagara Region released a 2013 Economic Growth Strategy targeting development of opportunities in 4 areas where Niagara has strengths and unique locational advantages:

  • Manufacturing
  • Agribusiness
  • Tourism
  • Transportation and Logistics

Small and medium-sized businesses, many of them multi-generational, form a solid base for Niagara’s economy. The strategy forecasts that 80% of Niagara’s economic growth will come from businesses that are already here.

Source: Niagara Region
Retrieved From:

2013 Ipsos Reid Survey of Niagara Manufacturers
Between 2013 and 2015, many manufacturing firms in Niagara expect to increase business and employment, according to 2013 Ipsos Reid research done on behalf of the Niagara Region Economic Development department. The telephone survey of 196 senior decision makers from manufacturing firms in Niagara was conducted June 21st to July 26th, 2013.

Research highlights include:

  • Three quarters (74%) of manufacturing firm decision-makers expect their business to increase over the next three years, with one-third (34%) expecting an increase by more than 10%. This compares favourably to the one in ten decision-makers who anticipate that business will decrease (12%) or stay the same (13%).
  • Looking ahead within the same time frame, more than two thirds (68%) of manufacturing firms expect to see an increase in business profitability as well as future investments in machinery and equipment (68%). Other anticipated increases include:
    • Investment in facilities – 44% increase
    • Size of work force in Niagara Region – 43% increase
    • Investment in Research and Development – 36% increase
    • Workforce training budget – 37% increase
  • Four in ten (39%) project their company to increase the number of people they employ over the next 2 years, compared to fewer than one in ten (5%) who project employment to decrease and half (54%) who expect employment figures to remain stable.
  • Firms are committed to innovation, research and development, and moving further into global and new markets
  • Survey respondents identified a number of issues that are important to consider when expanding their business including: infrastructure, access to new technology and research, as well as government support programs (68% cite as important respectively). Other important issues include the regulatory environment (65%) and the ability to connect with high quality post-secondary institutions (52%).

Source: Ipsos Reid and Niagara Region Economic Development
Retrieved From:

2014 KPMG Competitive Alternatives Report
This report ranked the Niagara region ninth among 107 cities from 10 countries, for cost effectiveness to locate a business here. The study looked at business costs, population, demographics, education and skilled labour, innovation, infrastructure, economic conditions, regulatory environment, cost of living and personal quality of life.

Source: KPMG
Retrieved From:

Number of Businesses in Niagara

The following listing of the number of businesses in Niagara, by municipality is based on 2011 data from Statistics Canada. It is sourced from the Community Information Database (CID), developed by the Government of Canada’s Rural Secretariat, in collaboration with the provinces and territories, other government departments and community groups.

Fort Erie






Niagara Falls






Port Colborne


St. Catharines








West Lincoln




Source: Government of Canada Business Registry Data for Niagara
Retrieved From:

Organizations Contributing to Economic Development in Niagara

Chambers of Commerce in Niagara
There are a total of 9 Chambers of Commerce in Niagara, representing approximately 3,900 memberships. Based on the above statistic that there are 23, 912 businesses in Niagara, it appears that approximately 16% of Niagara businesses belong to one or more of the Chambers of Commerce in Niagara.

Chambers of Commerce in the Niagara region

Number of Members

Greater Fort Erie Chamber of Commerce


Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce


Grimsby & District Chamber of Commerce


Lincoln Chamber of Commerce


Niagara Falls Chamber of Commerce


Niagara-on-the-Lake Chamber of Commerce

(est)  200

Port Colborne/Wainfleet Chamber of Commerce


Welland/Pelham Chamber of Commerce


West Lincoln Chamber of Commerce


Economic Development Organizations in Niagara
There are 8 municipal government organizations working in the area of Economic Development and Prosperity in Niagara:

Community Futures Development Corporations in Niagara
There are two federally-funded Community Futures Development Corporations in Niagara.

Other Organizations Contributing to Economic Development in Niagara
Following is a listing of some organizations contributing to economic development in Niagara.

Government Investment in Advanced Manufacturing in Niagara
In February, 2014, the Government of Ontario announced that it is investing Southwestern Ontario Development Fund dollars in companies, including:

  • A grant of just over $137,000 to Indexable Cutting Tools, a Welland manufacturer of precision cutting tools, to help create 10 jobs and retain 26 existing jobs; and
  • A grant of just over $359,000 to Niagara Piston, a Beamsville producer of brake pistons for the automotive industry, to help create 15 jobs and retain 150 existing jobs.

Source: Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Trade
Retrieved From:

In 2014, the provincial government confirmed funding support for the building of a permanent home for Niagara College’s Industry Innovation Centre in Advanced Manufacturing. The Industry Innovation Centre at Niagara (IIC@N) will be a state-of-the-art facility where Niagara College faculty and students will assist small- and medium-sized manufacturers with research and development, and solving operational challenges. In 2013, the federal government provided $990,000 from the FedDev Ontario Prosperity Initiative; Niagara Region committed $50,000 a year for 5 years, and the $350,000 per year for five years from the Technology Access Centre of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

Source: Niagara College
Retrieved From:

Innovate Niagara: An Ontario Regional Innovation Centre
Innovate Niagara provides a single access point to match clients with services to suit their needs through a suite of in-house programs, resource partners and a network of incubation facilities. The following services can be accessed through Innovate Niagara:

  • Entrepreneurial training courses
  • Business advisory services, tools and resources
  • Business and industry networking events
  • Business-academic collaboration opportunities
  • Residency within industry-specific incubation facilities

The Innovate Niagara web portal helps to streamline an entrepreneur’s path from concept to prototype to profitable business, with a vision of helping drive growth of innovative clusters in the region.

Innovate Niagara (which formed as nGen in 2008) is a Regional Innovation Centre (RIC) through the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE). Support is provided for emerging sectors and high-growth industries by connecting innovators to the people and programs required to bring their products to the market. Assistance is provided to companies within business clusters such as:

  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Agriculture
  • Bio Manufacturing
  • Clean Tech
  • Digital Media and Information Technologies
  • Green Energy
  • Life Sciences, Health and Wellness

BioLInc, launched in 2012 at the Goodman School of Business at Brock University and the Generator at one are powered by Innovate Niagara. The goal of BioLinc is to connect scientific discovery with business opportunity. The Generator at one is a full-service interactive media production facility that provides tenancy, support and access to technology to help start-ups become profitable.

Since its inception, Innovate Niagara has received government funding support including:

  • 2008 start-up funds from the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade & Employment (MEDTE) and City of St Catharines
  • June, 2008 facility expansion, supported by a $3 million grant from the FedDev Ontario Community Adjustment Fund
  • October, 2010, designated a Regional Innovation Centre (RIC) by the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation

Source: Innovate Niagara, Executive Summary as of May 26, 2014
Retrieved From:

Niagara Region Gateway Economic Zone and Centre Community Improvement Plan
The Niagara Gateway Economic Zone and Centre Improvement Plan is being marketed by Niagara Region, to attract investors to grow industry in Welland, Port Colborne, Niagara Falls, Fort Erie and Thorold by leveraging a multi-modal network with easy access to road, rail and water.

Source: Niagara Region
Retrieved From:

Vineland Research and Innovation Centre: A Leader in Canadian Horticultural Science
The Vineland Research Station (VRIC), originally established in 1906 through a generous gift by Moses F. Rittenhouse, a Vineland native and entrepreneur, supported emergence of a competitive tender fruit and grape growing industry in Ontario, and more recently greenhouse and winemaking industries.

In 2006, the research station began its transformation, with funding support from the provincial government, into a VRIC as a world class research centre for Canadian horticultural science and innovation.

A new $10 million 40,000 square foot pre-commercial greenhouse complex slated to open in 2015 is designed to assist growers in seeing how new technology like robotics can reduce their labour costs and how automation can increase their competitiveness.

Source: Vineland Research and Innovation Centre
Retrieved From:

Leveraging Data and Knowledge as Resources for Niagara
Globally, data is recognized as a highly valuable resource that can inform planning for impact. When data is transformed into information, knowledge and wisdom, it becomes a powerful tool for predictive intelligence. In Niagara, through our building of Niagara Connects, we are pioneering a community-built model for systematically leveraging data and knowledge to inform socio-economic planning for transformational change.

From 2010 to 2013, the Niagara-wide community built the Niagara Knowledge Exchange (NKE) tool to support evidence-informed planning, collective action and Niagara-wide community innovations.
The NKE is a populated by people working in the 12 Living in Niagara Sectors, in partnership with the Knowledge Brokers at Niagara Connects.

The following analytics help to illustrate the community’s engagement in leveraging the NKE ( tool in its first 16 months since going ‘live’ in July 2013.

Analytics for the Niagara-wide community’s (NKE) tool: First 16 Months (July 01, 2013 – October 31, 2014)

  • General
    • 49,600 page views
    • 13,810 visits from 9,097 unique visitors
    • 6 webinars facilitated and archived, with 825 total views
  • Uploads
    • 31 blogs posted from 17 sources
    • 277 Resources and Publications
    • 378 Niagara Community Calendar Events
    • 65 Partners & Projects
  • Social Media
    • 9 e-newsletters
    • 584 tweets to 1,324 followers

Phase II of building the NKE began in early 2014, with a goal of Describing Qualities of Data for Niagara. Beginning in 2005, as a foundational element of building Niagara Connects, the community identified their desire to collaboratively strengthen the amount of available information about how we work together in Niagara, how we share our information and identify and work with our data and knowledge assets. This will help us to accurately outline a pathway for the people of Niagara to mine and utilize data to help us build a stronger future.

Thus, the Data and Knowledge Niagara Working Group is gathering building blocks and is building a Framework within which to inventory existence of data and knowledge assets and resources in Niagara.
Thirteen themes are being reviewed:

  1. Archived & Accessible platform with specialists guiding utilization
  2. Build Niagara’s Capacity to see, analyze and utilize Data as a Resource for focused planning
  3. The more Raw & Granular the Data is, the better it is for some researchers in Niagara
  4. Identify & Inventory existing Data assets, as well as Collective Community Intelligence related to Niagara’s data
  5. Link to Data generated globally
  6. Consider best practice in utilization of Data
  7. Identify Data assets and requirements for economic development, business/commerce and labour market planning in Niagara
  8. Identify potential use of Niagara Data at specific geography levels
  9. Utilize already-existing Niagara resources such as Niagara Connects Knowledge Brokers and Niagara Knowledge Exchange to archive, curate, retrieve, and translate Data, as well as connecting to other sources of Data
  10. Establish a common language and understanding of community Data, to enable communication and planning across the 12 Living in Niagara Sectors
  11. Investigate the value of forming a Community Data Consortium for Niagara
  12. Explore the role of “mashing up” cross-Sectoral Data (spanning all 12 Living in Niagara Sectors) for use in planning, policy development and decision-making
  13. Protecting Data from being lost – Long-term view of preservation and collection of Data

Assets identified for review include:

  • Living in Niagara reports
  • Niagara Knowledge Exchange (NKE)
  • Open Data Niagara
  • Niagara Falls Open Data
  • City of Welland Open Data
  • Other Canadian local municipal approaches – eg. Edmonton, Guelph
  • Canada Open Data
  • Open Data Ontario
  • Ontario’s Open by Default – Open Government in Ontario initiative
  • Global Cities Indicators Facility
  • G8 Open Data Charter
  • Bibliographies of specific data sources & identification of potential players (eg. sources cited in current Living in Niagara report)

Source: Niagara Connects, NKE Blog Post, Building Niagara’s Capacity for Open Data Sharing
Retrieved From:

Cooperatives in Niagara

According to the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA), a co-operative is an autonomous association of persons that are voluntarily united to meet economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise. Based around values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity, co-operatives represent a truly democratic business model.

The significance of co-operatives is that they are community-focused businesses that balance the needs of society, the environment, and the economy. Operating as legally incorporated businesses, The Ontario Co-operative Association reports that on top of being a trusted place to do business, twice as many co-operative businesses remain in operation after ten years than conventional business types.

In Niagara there is an established co-operative sector, however knowledge and an understanding of co-operatives varies throughout the twelve municipalities. In order to help this sector grow, the first step is to generate awareness for our existing co-operatives and begin educating our communities on how they help to provide jobs, security, and foster community development.

The following information was provided by the Niagara Co-op Network, with thanks to the Ontario Co-operative Association and Niagara Peninsula Homes Inc. for the data.  There are a total of 105 co-operatives in Niagara (Fort Erie-8; Grimsby-4; Lincoln-8; Niagara Falls-16; Niagara-on-the-Lake 3; Pelham 3; Port Colborne 3; St. Catharines 40; Thorold 3; Wainfleet 1; Welland 14; West Lincoln 2).

List of Co-operatives in Niagara

For more information about co-operatives in Niagara and how to get involved, please visit the Niagara Co-op Network page on Facebook

Source: Niagara Co-op Network
Retrieved from: International Co-operative Alliance
Canadian Co-operative Association
Ontario Co-operative Association

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