2016 LEDC Year in Review: A Look Forward

2016 was an exciting year for London’s economy in many ways – a number of our sectors grew with significant expansions and employment picking up in manufacturing, and several digital creative companies moved into the core. Over 1,000 new jobs were created in the tech sector alone, and over the past few years has become one of London’s fastest growing industries. While access to talent remains one of the biggest constraints for companies, 2017 will see more programming to create the supports and resources jobseekers need, and more opportunities at job fairs and events to connect with hiring employers. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights of 2016, as well as what’s in store for 2017.

Investing in Innovation

London has recently attracted a new wave of global investments from Germany, Austria, Japan, and Korea. New foreign direct investment (fDi) as well as growing local companies in manufacturing and food and beverage processing have led to the growth of a diverse economy. As a result, newcomers to London are enjoying our city’s vibrant downtown, affordable housing, festivals, and arts and entertainment activities for the entire family.

Within the past year, we’ve seen significant expansions with companies like Hanwha L&C Canada doubling its production capacity by adding a $40 million, 60,000 square foot facility and is set to hire nearly 100 new employees. Sodecia, another local manufacturer, bought 40 acres next to their soon-to-open research centre, making a $45 million investment in 2016. Aluminum casting maker Ramsden Industries adds to the number of manufacturers investing in the city, with a $6.1 million overhaul that will create 14 new jobs.

One way we celebrated manufacturing innovations in our region was at our annual Manufacturing Matters conference in October 2016. The conference, hosted by the London Economic Development Corporation (LEDC) and the London Region Manufacturing Council (LRMC), provides manufacturers with the opportunity to learn valuable information from industry leaders, keynote speakers, and peer-to-peer networking with other local manufacturers and service providers. Over 300 people gathered that day to hear from keynote speaker, Chris Jones Harris, Principal of Strategic Initiatives and Alliances at Jones Packaging Inc. in London, who shared her company’s journey, challenges, and successes. Over the past 130 years, the 4th generation packaging firm has diversified and developed an innovation approach to stay competitive in the market.

Expanding London’s Digital Footprint

With more than 300 companies employing over 9,000 employees, London’s digital creative sector has become one of the fastest growing industries in our city. Several tech companies expanded in 2016, with many more moving into our downtown core to provide their employees with things like easy access to transit, entertainment, resources, and reliable infrastructure such as fibre optic internet.

In 2016 we welcomed a new digital media company, Bron Animation, to the city as the British Columbia-based film studio expands, adding an office in downtown London. The company joins London’s niche film sector and will create up to eight employment opportunities.

Retro-inspired mobile game maker Tiny Titan Studios is another company that has moved into the core, growing from a one-man startup to a team of 11, now located at 242 Dundas Street with over 3,000 square feet of space.

Northern, deemed Canada’s fastest growing eCommerce agency headquartered here in London, moved from their 5,000 square foot office to a 30,000 square foot space with 150 workstations. The company joins London’s Horton Street tech corridor (SOHO) alongside other leaders like Phoenix Interactive and Engine SevenFour.

Global manufacturer of IT connectivity parts, StarTech.com, doubled their office size in 2016. Its workforce has doubled over the last five years, growing to approximately 400 employees worldwide, with 300 of those working at the London headquarters. The building expansion of 33,000 square feet of new workspace provides room to add an additional 80 employees as the company continues to grow.

Along with expansions and moves, many of London’s digital creative companies were awarded both locally and internationally. ZTR Control Systems received the Economic Leadership Award for their contributions to London’s economy over the past two decades, while also being named one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies in 2016. Canada’s largest independent mobile gaming company, Big Blue Bubble, received multiple recognitions, including being ranked #133 on Branhams300’s 2016 Top 250, #131 on 2016 PROFIT 500 and named one of Deloitte’s Technology Fast 50 companies.

Forest City Firsts

2016 saw many forest city firsts with big impact, from events and spaces to investments and entertainment:

  • The 35th annual Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA) Awards Show took place in London for the very first time in September - one of the largest entertainment events the city has ever hosted, bringing in an estimated economic impact of $6-8 million
  • A new event to the city in 2016, Forest City Film Festival brought together local cinephiles and filmmakers to share and celebrate their work. The new arts initiative is dedicated to local and Canadian film that works to strengthen our region’s connection to the industry
  • Family-run business Anderson Craft Ales opened their first location in London’s Old East Village in the summer of 2016. Anderson is the latest local entry in the rapidly growing craft beer industry
  • The Canadian Centre for Product Validation (CCPV), a division of Fanshawe College, opened in 2016, the first facility of its kind in Canada. The centre helps bridge the gap between innovation and commercialization through product validation. It’s multimodal, conducting electrical, mechanical, performance, environmental and thermal testing all under one roof
  • The London Knights took home the Memorial Cup Championship in 2016, the second time in the team’s history since 2005
  • London launched it’s first shared space designed to inspire social innovators. Innovation Works, located at 201 King Street, offers flex desk, private desk, cluster, or office packages each designed to meet the needs of those moving into the space
  • Western University received the largest research grant in history in 2016 - $66 million for ongoing neuroscience and brain imaging research. Additionally, researchers announced that the Western-developed HIV vaccine is ready for human trials
  • Historic Woodfield, a Victorian neighbourhood located in the heart of London, was named Great Neighbourhood 2016 by the Canadian Institute of Planners
  • The LEDC launched London INC., a one-stop portal to support entrepreneurs and new ventures in London, designed to create growth opportunities, collaborations and make some noise about entrepreneurship in London. The portal is accompanied by an Instagram channel helping to further shares London’s startup stories

Recruiting New Resources

In 2016 the LEDC launched a number of new resources to improve talent and workforce development efforts, as well as outreach and marketing. Take a look at some of these new resources:

  • London & Area Works, a new website portal, was launched in 2015 by the LEDC local partners, including CTV London, the City of London, Employment Sector Council, Elgin Middlesex Oxford Workforce Planning and Development Board, Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, and Employment Ontario. The site provides job seekers with resume advice, job searching tips, opportunities and much more. The resource also consists of weekly video segments highlighting growing and hiring companies in the London region, as well as job fairs. The first two job fairs, held in 2016, gathered approximately 2,000 job seekers with over 1,900 available positions offered by 50 companies. The next London & Area Works job fair will be held on April 25, 2017. You can learn more and register at: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/london-and-area-works-job-fair-tickets-28392068441
  • The LEDC launched the second version of the London Magazine in April 2016. The magazine is a unique publication that showcases all London has to offer in one place. Now with 9 different covers and 76 pages of original content and photography, the magazine shares London’s business and economic success stories, while highlighting quality of life, entertainment, and local resources. The magazine is used by local businesses to promote their own stories, by educational facilities as a recruitment tool, and has been sent to various companies worldwide to help share London’s story. You can order it online for free and read selected content virtually at: www.magazine.ledc.com
  • New immigration portal tools were unveiled in 2016. Start London Canada, created by the LEDC, the City of London, and the Small Business Centre, is a video and online resource guide which promotes the benefits for immigrant entrepreneurs to establish their business in London. The video is available in seven different languages, which currently have a combined total of more than 161,500 views on YouTube
  • A new feature is now available on the LEDC’s resources page. Market Place is London’s business to business connection - a tool to help London businesses identify other London businesses providing products and services. You can select from a number of categories or search to see which local businesses offer what you’re looking for.

A Look Ahead

2017 is already shaping up to be another positive year for London’s economy, with the addition of celebrating Canada’s 150th anniversary of confederation offering lots of activities, events, and commemorations.

A number of infrastructure projects are on the radar for 2017 such as Dundas Place, Rapid Transit, Back to the River Project, and industrial land development. All will contribute to London’s economic front. Further developments in the manufacturing and digital creative sectors are expected, as well as an increase in jobs and student traffic in the core as a result of the Fanshawe College-Kingsmill renovations completing in 2017.

We look forward to working with you in 2017. Keep your eye on our news and events page for all the latest happening in London, Ontario, Canada.

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Ashley Conyngham

Director, Marketing and Communications

519.661.4545 • 1.800.327.2428