July 10, 2014 8:07 pm
Updated: July 10, 2014 8:52 pm

Alberta home to one-third of Canada’s billion-dollar companies: study


Watch above: A new study shows Alberta is home to one third of Canada’s billion-dollar businesses.

EDMONTON – Of the 169 billion-dollar firms in the country, a new report shows that 52 are based in Alberta.

“Alberta accounts for only 11 per cent of the population in Canada but they have 30 per cent of the billion dollar companies in Canada,” said Pierre Cléroux of Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), the Montreal-based company behind the study.

From the July 2014 study, Canada’s Billion-Dollar Firms: Contributions, Challenges and Opportunities.”


Ontario is another huge hub for successful Canadian businesses. Retail companies like Canadian Tire, Shoppers Drug Mart, Rona, and Tim Hortons are all based there.

Alberta’s resources admittedly play a large role in its success, but BDC’s chief economist believes credit is also due to Albertans’ “strong sense of entrepreneurship.”

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“It’s one thing to have the resources, it’s another thing to build a billion-dollar company,” Cléroux said. “So, obviously, many people in Alberta have the talent and the ability to grow business.”

Stantec, an Edmonton-based design firm, is one of the success stories.

In 1998, former VP Tony Franceschini said he wanted to grow what was then a company of about 1,200 staff to a billion-dollar company by 2008. According to the study, the firm is now worth more than $1.5 billion.

“We certainly owe our heritage to the City of Edmonton and the support it’s provided us,” said Stantec president and CEO Bob Gomes.

“We’ve worked on projects here in Edmonton and Alberta and [it] really gave us a platform to be able to grow across North America.”

It’s that kind of international expansion that Cléroux believes Canadian companies need to do more of in order to sustain their growth.

Billion dollar firms per capita across jurisdictions from the study “Canada’s Billion Dollar Firms: Contributions, Challenges, and Opportunities.”


“In head-to-head comparisons, we trail Australia and Sweden significantly, outperform Germany, and hold a slight per capita advantage over the United Kingdom and the United States,” the report reads.

AutoCanada Inc., Capital Power and Finning LTD are the other three Edmonton-based billion-dollar companies named in the report.

While most of the 52 Alberta companies are in the oil and gas sector, there are also a number of utilities companies. The transportation, telecommunications, real estate and service industries are represented, as well.

You can see the full list of billion-dollar companies, broken down by sectors, at the end of the report below.

In it, you can also find what the study’s authors think Canada could learn from countries like Australia and Sweden.

© 2014 Shaw Media

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