In survey after survey, Vancouver ranks as one of the world’s most livable cities. Its bustling downtown business core is minutes away from world-class ski resorts, pristine beaches and spectral old-growth forests.
And its highly skilled, entrepreneurial and competitive workforce makes it one of the best places to do business. In 2007 Vancouver was named one of the smartest cities in the world by the Intelligent Community Forum. It has also been previously named as a “Global Fast City" by FastCompany magazine, citing it as a leading competitor for global talent and a leader in environmental sustainability.
Businesses can bank on a workforce that’s not only happy and healthy but “book smart” and “business savvy.” More than a third of the population has undergraduate degrees, and ten per cent have advanced degrees. Vancouver has the highest concentration of artists among large Canadian cities—the “creative class” that helps make a city vibrant and leading-edge. Entrepreneurs constitute the second-largest Meetup.com group in Vancouver (outpaced only by hikers). Small-business creation happens more quickly here. Cities, like companies, attract like-minded people, so the critical mass of creative entrepreneurs expands steadily through self-selected in-migration.
Businesses benefit from a diverse workforce that’s growing fast—more than 40,000 people immigrate to British Columbia each year with the majority settling in Vancouver. Because Vancouver is an Asia-Pacific business centre, workforce diversity is particularly important. More than two-thirds of recent immigrants came from Asia.
Ingenuity and creativity are hallmarks of the region. Mountain Equipment Co-op, the largest retail cooperative in Canada with 1,100 employees, uses a unique business model to offer high-quality outdoor goods, including its own brand, to 2.6 million members. Lululemon, built around yoga wear, is an international success. Dozens of internet entrepreneurs are based here, including the co-founder of Open Text Corporation, the founder of NCompass Labs (acquired by Microsoft), and the young man who started the photo-sharing website Flickr.