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Q&A: Gavin FitzPatrick on How Waterloo is Inventing the Future of Automotive

Dive into Waterloo's dynamic automotive ecosystem in this Q&A with market development expert Gavin FitzPatrick.

Thinking about expanding your automotive-based business? We know the challenges that can come along with that – especially when it comes to finding a location that truly supports your business growth.

We can help you navigate the process and show you why Waterloo has all the parts you’re looking for.

For starters, Waterloo has a vibrant ecosystem that’s already home to 100+ automotive and autotech companies and hundreds of other businesses within driving distance via Canada’s 401 superhighway. We also have three leading post-secondary schools in the region and a deep talent pool of skilled professionals in computer science, engineering and skilled trades.

We sat down with Gavin FitzPatrick, a market development expert at Waterloo EDC, to get the inside scoop on why Waterloo is the perfect place for an automotive-based business expansion. Read on for the highlights from our discussion and more information about the resources and support available to businesses that are considering Waterloo.

Q: What can you tell us about the automotive industry in Waterloo? Who are the big players and why did they come here?

FITZPATRICK: The biggest automotive players in the region are Toyota and Ford – with Linamar, producing parts for the vast majority of the world’s OEMs, within a 30 minute drive.

The Toyota operation is a particular highlight – it’s the largest automotive manufacturer in Canada and their local plant has won more J.D Power Awards for quality than any other operation in North America.

BlackBerry, the makers of QNX, an automotive operating system that’s embedded in more than 215M vehicles worldwide, was also founded here.

Waterloo’s automotive sector is a microcosm of the greater Canadian auto industry, attracting global companies looking to innovate and grow. We have almost everything you need to manufacture a vehicle right here in the region or in an area close by.

Q: What services does Waterloo EDC offer manufacturing companies that want to expand to Waterloo?

FITZPATRICK: Waterloo EDC serves as the primary point of contact for manufacturing companies looking to expand into our region. We offer a range of services to enable their growth and success here.

We can connect them to the right people and contacts to develop customized expansion plans. We can assist with exploring real estate options, conducting initial research and accessing government funding programs. And we can make introductions to other automotive companies and local businesses in the local ecosystem.

Q: For companies looking to expand, what would you say are the benefits of locating or relocating in Waterloo?

FITZPATRICK: There are several key benefits to choosing Waterloo as an expansion location. First, our strategic position within the Toronto-Waterloo Corridor, the second largest tech cluster in North America, offers automotive companies proximity to partners, suppliers and customers.

Second, our proximity to the 401 highway, which connects Ontario’s automotive corridor and is easily accessible via the US Interstate 75, provides seamless transportation access. Our location places us at the midpoint between Oshawa and Windsor/Detroit, while offering a more affordable cost of living compared to larger cities.

Third, Waterloo is a community of innovative thinkers actively engaged in research and development, working towards shaping the future of the automotive industry. This collaborative environment tackles real-world challenges related to fuel technologies and the in-vehicle experience for consumers. We have hundreds of automotive-related researchers. The most in Canada.

Lastly, Waterloo provides an excellent quality of life and a robust talent pool that provides access to both local and international professionals via Canada’s business-friendly immigration programs.

The Global Talent Stream program, for example, is similar to the H-1B visa program in the US – except there is no lottery system and it offers quick processing times, with approval of permanent resident visas and work permits possible in as little as two weeks.

Q: On a personal level, what makes you passionate about helping businesses expand in Waterloo?

FITZPATRICK: My passion lies in helping businesses land and expand in Waterloo, witnessing firsthand the incredible opportunities our ecosystem provides. Our tightly knit community offers a unique blend of resources that are essential for the growth of automotive businesses.

Having traveled extensively, I can confidently say that there’s no place like Waterloo. We have a world-leading robotics and automation cluster, a complete quantum ecosystem and an impressive pool of skilled, work-ready talent. It’s remarkable to find all these features within a region of our size.

Connect with Gavin

Come to Waterloo to help drive Canada’s automotive industry forward. Get in touch with Gavin to learn how.