Metro Vancouver cities strong at attracting foreign dollars

Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie says a goal of providing 'one-stop shopping' for new businesses is one of the benefits of doing business in the city.
Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie says a goal of providing 'one-stop shopping' for new businesses is one of the benefits of doing business in the city. Ward Perrin , PROVINCE The Province

British Columbia cities of all sizes placed strongly in new rankings of the best jurisdictions for foreign direct investment in North and South America.

Cities including Vancouver, Surrey, Richmond, Victoria, Delta, Kamloops and others earned top-10 rankings in various “Cities of the Future” categories developed by fDi Intelligence, an offshoot of the Financial Times. The Times has a bigger reach into the global financial community than either the Wall Street Journal or The Economist.

“A sound financial system, relatively low corporation tax rates and an open and affluent economy have resulted in Canadian cities dominating the category for business friendliness across all city sizes,” according to fDi commentary accompanying the rankings.

The rankings collected data from 422 cities in five categories — economic potential, human resources, cost effectiveness, infrastructure and business friendliness.

The fDi organization specializes in research and promotion of foreign direct investment — which could include purchasing companies in other countries, and investing directly in foreign businesses rather than passive investment such as purchasing shares of a publicly traded company.

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fDi bi-annually releases a set of rankings of the world’s most attractive regions for investing. For North and South America, the overall rankings released this month said New York is the top destination for foreign direct investment, attracting 1.08 per cent of total direct investing in the Americas, with Sao Paulo second and Toronto in third place. Montreal was fourth and Vancouver fifth.

The Canadian cities, according to the study, “performed particularly well in the attracting of knowledge-intensive FDI. All three were among the top 20 key destination and source cities for FDI.”

Among large North American cities (as opposed to major cities such as New York), Vancouver was ranked first for attracting foreign direct investment, and second behind San Jose for economic potential.

Vancouver was number two behind San Jose for infrastructure, and number one for business friendliness among large cities.

Among mid-sized cities, Surrey was ranked number seven overall, as well as seventh for infrastructure, sixth for business friendliness and six for foreign direct investment strategy.

Victoria was first overall for small cities, followed by Richmond in third place.

Richmond was eighth for business friendliness.

Victoria and Richmond were fifth and sixth respectively for foreign direct investment strategy.

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Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie said the city’s rankings reflect its approach to business — “proactively speaking to businesses … seeing what our city forces can do to make their situation better and convincing them that they should actually stay here.”

“Fundamentally at city hall we try to have one-stop shopping for businesses which are trying to get off the ground,” Brodie said. “That encompasses many different departments. We can cater to people in just about whatever their mother language might be, so that we cannot only make them feel comfortable but also cut through some of the red tape that will prevent them from getting their business up and flourishing very quickly.”

Abbotsford ranked 10th for cost effectiveness among small cities.

Among ‘micro cities’ Kamloops was fifth overall and first for investment strategy. Delta was second for business friendliness, followed by North Vancouver (fourth) and Langley (sixth).