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Risk: An Overview for Businesses

Risk was an important concern for business before COVID-19. Now it's central to every expansion decision. Find out what risks your company should consider.

Finding the ideal commercial or industrial expansion opportunity goes beyond thinking about location, location, location.

Where you choose to operate is an important decision – a combination of price per square foot and good parking doesn’t tell the whole story.

Picking a new location – either as a relocation or expansion opportunity – means having a deep understanding of an area’s benefits and potential business risks. Traditional business risks, including changing tastes and markets, regulations and competition, now have to be factored in with global trade and supply chain disruptions, natural disasters, and – as we all know too well – pandemics.

There are many benefits to choosing Waterloo for your business. We’re home to one of Canada’s most robust tech ecosystems and a major contributor to Canada’s largest manufacturing corridor. We have three post-secondary institutions that produce great talent and innovative research, and we’re just 86km/53mi to Canada’s most travelled airport, Toronto Pearson.

Waterloo is unique in that it’s among a small number of low-risk, high-resilience communities that make it the best choice for your business.

What risks are we talking about? Our new “Understand the Risk” series will take a comparative look a business risk in six main areas. Here they are:

Natural hazards

There are no hurricane evacuation route signs to be seen anywhere in Waterloo, but we do get the occasional snow day now and then. In our first post, we’ll dig into the data to see how our community stacks up against other cities when it comes to flooding, fires and other natural disasters.

Infrastructure and supply chain

The COVID-19 pandemic turned the global supply chain upside down seemingly overnight. In our second post, we’ll look at how infrastructure and supply chains in Waterloo compare with other regions across North America.

Economic competitiveness

Are you joining a community that can compete when the cards are down? Waterloo benefits from several economic factors, including Canada’s AAA bond rating and the recently ratified United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Part three of our series takes a comparative look at key economic indicators that help identify low-risk locations for manufacturing, trade, tech and more.

Stability and freedom

We’ve seen what happens when instability occurs in G7 countries thanks to Brexit and the recent US election. Canada is one of the most stable countries globally, with an earned reputation for being peaceful (and polite). Our fourth post will look at why we rank 16th on the Human Development Index, a composite index of life expectancy, education and per capita income, why that’s important in risk mitigation and how other countries rank on the same index.

Talent and workforce

The first thing every tech company asks is “where do I get talent?” Locating in a region with low talent levels and challenging HR laws can present a significant risk to companies looking to scale. We’ve got the workforce you’re looking for – talent is probably the strongest part of Waterloo’s value proposition. Our fifth post will look at our post-secondary institutions that produce world-class talent and the access to global talent that minimizes the risks involved with access to talent.


The COVID-19 pandemic has shown just how important it is to have health and safety infrastructure that helps society react to crises. In Canada, it comes down to three words: national health care. Canada has a world-class national health care system that is focused on providing the best care possible. Our final post will look at how health and safety in Waterloo compares to countries around the world.

Want to learn more right now?

We offer in-depth Waterloo Region Risk Profiles for manufacturing and tech.