Conveniently located in the southern part of Waterloo Region, along Highway 401, is the city of Cambridge, an innovation powerhouse with cultural charm.
Known for its strong automotive and manufacturing sectors, in-demand post-secondary institutions and picturesque landscapes, Cambridge has become a highly sought-after place to work and live.
Over the past decade, like all parts of Waterloo Region, Cambridge has seen an explosion of growth, with development continuing across the city. Its strategic location and modern amenities continue to attract businesses and residents from across Canada and the world.
In this article, we’ll explore what makes Cambridge stand out, including industry giants that call this community home. Without further ado, let’s cast a spotlight on Cambridge, a city with big business opportunities and an excellent quality of life.
Cambridge was founded in 1973 through the amalgamation of the towns of Galt, Preston, Hespeler and the settlement of Blair. Today, it’s the region’s second-largest city by population, with over 138,000 residents.
Like its sister cities, Kitchener and Waterloo, Cambridge has a rich tradition of community, business and culture. It’s home to three distinct downtown cores, the new Gaslight District (the region’s largest public square), Conestoga College – and continues to be a popular destination for growing manufacturing, automation and tech businesses.
Even if you haven’t visited Cambridge, you may recognize its many landmarks and streetscapes from award-winning film and TV productions. The city has served as the backdrop for various Hollywood productions, including “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “The Hardy Boys,” “Designated Survivor,” and the new film “Longing,” starring Richard Gere.
Cambridge’s strategic location near highways, rail, and the Region of Waterloo International Airport (YKF) has attracted many globally recognized industrial companies to set up their Canadian headquarters or expand existing operations.
One such company is Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada (TMMC), which opened its doors in 1988 and now employs over 8,500 people across its three facilities. TMMC produces vehicles like the Toyota RAV4, Lexus RX and Lexus NX – including hybrid variants of all three. In 2022, the Cambridge facility celebrated a milestone with the ten millionth vehicle manufactured – a red Lexus NX 350h.
Waterloo Region is Canada’s largest automation cluster, attracting companies like Rockwell Automation and Beckhoff Automation which both have operations in Cambridge.
Rockwell Automation, which is headquartered in the US, provides digital transformation and automation solutions to help industrial companies and their employees be more productive and sustainable. The company’s Cambridge arm, Rockwell Automation Canada Control Systems, designs and manufactures industrial automation controls, data communications, data acquisition and electronic products.
In 2021, Germany-based Beckhoff Automation relocated its Canadian headquarters to a new 1,000-square-foot facility in Cambridge. Calvin Wallace, Managing Director of Beckhoff Automation Ltd., said the new Cambridge headquarters gave them the space to grow and improved their ability to serve their Canadian customers: “We are excited to be located in the technology-rich Waterloo Region, which puts our team closer to key customers and partners in the automation industry.”
BWX Technologies also chose Cambridge for its Canadian headquarters. The Virginia-based company is a leading supplier of nuclear components and fuel for reactors in the United States and Canada. In Canada, BWX Technologies produces fuel for CANDU reactors to create clean power for Canadians nationwide.
Founded over 100 years ago, Germany-based DESCH selected Cambridge as its first North American operation due to its manufacturing space and proximity to the US, which catered well to its primarily American customer base.
" We are excited to be located in the technology-rich Waterloo Region, which puts our team closer to key customers and partners in the automation industry. "
Managing Director, Beckhoff Automation Ltd.
Homegrown Success Stories
Cambridge isn’t just an attractive location for international companies; it’s also an excellent place to start and scale a business that can make a global impact.
Founded in 2001, Eclipse Automation has grown into an international industrial automation powerhouse with facilities in Cambridge, North Carolina, California and Malaysia. The company was acquired by Accenture Industry X in 2022 and now employs more than 900 people across its locations.
ATS Automation Tooling Systems, another local automation leader, was founded in 1978 and employs over 6,500 people at more than 60 manufacturing facilities in over 80 offices around the world.
ATS designs and builds automation systems for various industries, including automotive, medical and telecommunications. In 2019, the company announced a multi-million-dollar expansion at its Cambridge headquarters, adding 122,000 square feet of space to its existing facility.
Cambridge is a leader on the ground, in the air and in space, thanks to the team at Honeywell Aerospace. Formerly COM DEV International, this satellite and telecommunications company manufactures custom-designed equipment for commercial, military and civilian uses. Acquired by Honeywell in 2015, the company continues to break new ground, including contributing vital elements to the James Webb Space Telescope.
Novocol Pharmaceutical of Canada, a leading sterile injectable fill-finish manufacturer, has been thriving in Cambridge since 1979. The company experienced significant growth when it was acquired by Septodont Group in 2000, and again when it expanded its production capacity in 2010.
When the pandemic struck, the company received support from the Government of Canada to strengthen its domestic fill-finish biomanufacturing capacity. Two years later, it entered into a long-term agreement with Moderna to fill and finish Canadian-made mRNA vaccines at their Cambridge facility.
Canadian General-Tower Ltd. (CGT) traces its roots back to 1869 as part of Victoria Wheel Works in a newly constituted Canada. Today, the company produces automotive and industrial fabrics and films at its headquarters in Cambridge and international facilities. CGT’s success can be attributed to its talented employees who are dedicated to implementing the highest level of technology and innovation in various applications.
For a longer list of businesses in the region, visit our Business Directory.
Innovation & Learning Hubs
Cambridge is home to Conestoga College, one of the region’s three post-secondary institutions, as well as a satellite University of Waterloo campus, helping to produce the region’s next generation of talent.
Conestoga College is a leading polytechnic institute that attracts more than 26,000 students from around the world. While the college’s main campus is in Kitchener, Cambridge is home to three campus locations that serve the community and businesses seeking strong talent.
The Downtown Campus provides academic upgrading and career-focused programs. Its 260,000-square-foot Fountain Street Campus is home to the School of Engineering & Technology and the Institute of Food Processing Technology.
The newly opened Skilled Trades Campus is a 322,000-square-foot facility dedicated to training the next generation of skilled workers to meet Ontario’s growing need for residential, commercial and industrial spaces. It’s also the home of the Jill of All Trades program which helps young women discover career opportunities in the trades.
The University of Waterloo School of Architecture, situated along the Grand River in downtown Galt, has been ranked among the top five architecture schools in North America by AZURE magazine. Notably, it’s the only Canadian school of architecture with a permanent international campus in Rome.
Attractions & Amenities
Cambridge is quickly becoming a prime location for businesses and residents alike.
Tapestry Hall is a versatile event space, perfect for weddings, meetings or conferences. It features two customizable rooms and is centrally located next to nightlife, restaurants and Cambridge’s newest public entertainment space, The Gaslight District.
The Gaslight District is the largest public square in Waterloo Region. It features a permanent stage, a large outdoor video screen and hosts free community events year-round.
For nature-lovers, Cambridge also provides ample opportunities to explore the outdoors, with over 50 km of natural and urban trails. 8 km of these trails can be found at the rare Charitable Research Reserve, and 18 km run along the Speed and Grand Rivers.
Every summer, the Cambridge Scottish Festival celebrates the city’s Scottish heritage at Churchill Park. The festival features Scottish highland games, music, food and festivities for everyone to enjoy, regardless of their background.
Cambridge’s location advantages make it an attractive destination for future growth. However, it’s just one of the many exciting options available for businesses looking to expand.
Waterloo Region is made up of three cities and four townships, each offering unique benefits for business expansion. Conveniently located along Canada’s 401 superhighway, it serves as an ideal destination for manufacturing, automotive and technology companies looking for room to grow.
Contact us to learn more about how to locate, re-locate or expand your business in Waterloo.