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Welcome to the third largest tech-hub in North America

New York Times | | Mar 21, 2022

toronto quietly booming tech town - Welcome to the third largest tech-hub in North America

TORONTO — In late February, Microsoft opened four floors of new office space near the top of a 50-story glass tower in downtown Toronto, a block from Scotiabank Arena, home of the Maple Leafs and the Raptors.

Apple and Amazon were already in towers just down the street, and Google was about to open a new building around the corner. Meta, formerly Facebook, did not yet have an office downtown, but many Toronto start-ups complained that the social media company was driving tech salaries to Silicon Valley levels as it recruited top engineers across the city. During the pandemic, it was hiring anyone willing to work from home.

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A few blocks north, construction workers in yellow vests and hard hats were finishing three floors of new office space for another social media company: Pinterest. Stripe, an American payments company, was opening an office near City Hall, where Klarna, a Scandinavian payments company, had just announced its arrival with a flashy photo op alongside Mayor John Tory.

Thanks to years of investment from local universities, government agencies and business leaders and Canada’s liberal immigration policies, Toronto is now the third-largest tech hub in North America. It is home to more tech workers than Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle and Washington, D.C., trailing only New York and Silicon Valley, according to CBRE, a real estate company that tracks tech hiring.

Toronto’s tech work force is also growing at a faster clip than any hub in the United States.

In Toronto, U.S.-based companies can also speed the arrival of new tech talent from other countries — a talent stream that has long been the lifeblood of the American tech industry. As the U.S. immigration system slowed and sputtered under the Trump administration, Canada introduced programs intended to bring skilled workers into a country that is already unusually diverse. Nearly 50 percent of Toronto’s residents were born outside the country, according to the city.

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“It is infinitely easier to bring that kind of talent into Canada,” said Heather Kirkby, chief people officer at Recursion, a company that applies A.I. to drug discovery. “A lot of companies have given up on immigration in the U.S. There are limits to what’s possible.”

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