Barrie ranked 16th in country's top 20 tech centres

Barrie’s tech sector has been ranked among the top 20 in the country, debuting at No. 16 in a commercial real estate report.

By: Sarah Pavlik |Dec 04, 2018
This story was originally published by Rick Vanderlinde on Simcoe.com

Ian Pavlik, President of pavliks.com and The Portal Connector

Ian Pavlik is president of pavliks.com and The Portal Connector. - Rick Vanderlinde/Metroland

Barrie’s tech sector has been ranked among the top 20 in the country, debuting at No. 16 in a commercial real estate report.

CBRE Research’s Canadian Tech Talent Report shows a combination of factors, including the city’s proximity to Toronto, as key components in creating a vibrant technology sector.

“This makes Barrie one of the fastest-growing tech talent markets in Canada, on a par with Waterloo Region and Halifax,” CBRE spokesperson Ryan Starr said. “Given Barrie’s proximity to Toronto, this underscores the advantages of tech clustering.”

Barrie has had a solid period of tech growth since 2012, increasing its employee pool by 29 per cent. That translates to 1,300 new tech jobs between 2012 and 2017, bringing Barrie’s total tech talent roster to 5,800, or 5.8 per cent of total jobs.

Ian Pavlik, president of pavliks.com and The Portal Connector, gives credit to the City of Barrie and its aggressive marketing campaign for attracting technology workers.

“I think it’s wonderful that we are on that list now,” Pavlik said. “The city has put a lot of effort into supporting us with a lot of promotions and recruitment.”

Tech workers located in the GTA and Toronto are encouraged to move to Barrie for cheaper housing and a more relaxed lifestyle instead of commuting north.

“We decided not to have offices in Toronto because of lifestyle,” Pavlik said. “People here go home for lunch to walk the dog. In the city, it’s a rat race.”

Tech workers are employed in areas that include software development, computer systems and technology engineering. The CBRE report says tech workers can earn from $70,000 to $90,000 annually here.

“It’s sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy,” Pavlik said. “The more you promote, the more people want to come, and the more that come, the more opportunity there is. We just need to keep doing what we are doing.”

CBRE’s report shows the cost of living index here is at 101 per cent compared with the 100 per cent national average. Toronto has a cost of living index of 130 per cent.

Barrie’s educational attainment is ranked at 20, with about 18 per cent of 25- to 64-year-olds holding a bachelor’s degree or higher, the report shows. About 36 per cent of Toronto workers have degrees.

Barrie has post-secondary support with Georgian College, but the report shows larger tech centres tend to be in cities with universities.

While Barrie is in a solid position as part of a Toronto-based tech cluster, it must compete with other cities such as Oshawa, which debuted at 14 on this year’s CBRE ranking.

Oshawa, which just received an economic blow with the impending closure of the GM plant, had the fastest-growing tech sector from 2012 to 2017, creating 3,000 tech jobs.

In a ranking system that saw Toronto with the highest score of 87.3, Oshawa saw a 33.7 score, and Barrie received a score of 26.3.

“Hamilton, Waterloo Region, Oshawa and Barrie exceeded the average Canadian tech-job growth rate, which further exemplifies the benefits of clustering,” the report states.

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