Quality of Life and a Welcoming Business Environment
- The cost of doing business in Fredericton is significantly less than the costs in other urban centres, making it attractive to foreign investors.
- The quality of life in Fredericton makes it an attractive destination for both workers and businesses.
- Academic institutions in Fredericton have worked hard to produce graduates that are ready for the market.
Fredericton impresses in many areas regarding its ability to attract foreign investment, from its high quality of life to low cost of doing business, as well as the availability of talent. However, it could improve its status as an investment destination by becoming more connected to other urban centres in Canada, as well as to the United States. An international airport and other infrastructural solutions for connectivity would be helpful to the Fredericton business community.
How do you see Canada as an investment destination and what are some of the factors that made you and your organization choose Canada?
We were a services company, growing quite aggressively, and we had a lot of clients in the US who wanted to be serviced from closer to where they are. The US immigration system was essentially putting a limit on how fast we could grow and so we wanted to get our key people in here and also I wanted to be personally there so that I could expand the team. Canada was a very welcoming country. I have been here two years, I have two kids as well, and Canada was a great move both for my business and for my family, so it was a no-brainer.
The first time we came here, Opportunities New Brunswick (ONB) basically got us in here to show us the province. One of the common refrains that I heard from ONB even before I came here was that everything is close in Fredericton—it is all five minutes and 10 minutes.
Canada was a great move both for my business and for my family, so it was a no-brainer.
For a guy who was in Chennai at that time, we had an hour-long commute anywhere you wanted to go, so I thought they were just selling it. Then I came here and I found this amazing because Fredericton is a pretty small community, and at the same time it has all of the amenities of a big city. Pretty much any commute in Fredericton is really five to 10 minutes and that drastically makes a difference on your plans. For example, you could be done at 5:00 at the office and be at home with your kids at 5:10 or 5:15, and you just feel like you have a lot more time and you have a lot more time to live life in Fredericton.
Has it been easy to find the talent you need to grow in Fredericton?
Absolutely. Recruiting for tech is hard in any city. If you have more people in the city there are just more employers. It is a constant pretty much on the amount of effort that you have to put in to get smart people to join you—that is a given. We have three hires from the tech side from the University of New Brunswick (UNB). We also have people from St. Thomas University (STU) and the management streams of UNB. In all, we have about six people from UNB that we have taken in who are working with us both as cooperatives and graduates.
Is the academic and talent ecosystem supportive of organizations like yours?
Absolutely, especially given the structure of the cooperative programs and others, they have very good feedback cycles from the industry on what is expected and New Brunswick Community College, UNB, and STU make course corrections in their programs to better suit the market’s needs.
How welcoming was the Fredericton business community to a company that comes from India?
It has been quite refreshing. We are not seen as much as competition but more like increasing the size of the pie. The more competition there is, the more people come to be here, and you grow the ecosystem.
The existing businesses definitely realize this, and they are very welcoming and they provide the necessary support. When we came and set up here as Sedin Technologies, Blue Spurs was just being acquired by Deloitte at that point in time, and I had a very interesting conversation with the founder there in one of the meet-ups that they had organized.
We are not seen as much as competition but more like increasing the size of the pie. The more competition there is, the more people come to be here, and you grow the ecosystem.
Of course, there is always UNB and their entrepreneurship program. ONB is always there to make up those very interesting introductions. To give you an instance, they introduced us to AV Nackawic, which is a paper processing plant here, and they found that we might have a solution that might fit their needs. It is not that we are going and selling to them, they just made the introduction and we were grateful. We ended up working with AV Nackawic as a customer there. I think the whole ecosystem in Fredericton is very welcoming and I think it would be appropriate for anybody.
What do you think can be improved specifically for us to continue to attract more foreign investment?
This year has been a bit of a downer for everybody, I suppose, and some of what I may say is not appropriate during the pandemic but definitely for before this whole onset of the pandemic.
One thing that can be improved is having better mobility between these Atlantic Provinces. For example, when meet-ups happen, it would be nice if there is this rotating schedule of meet-ups, with some in Moncton and some in Fredericton at some other point in time, and so on and so forth. That would be very nice.
I really missed having a direct flight out from Fredericton to New York or Boston and things like that. I travel quite a bit to meet my clients and having to jump to Toronto or Montreal every time I go there—it is definitely doable, it does not stop me but it is definitely a pain. I would really like to have an international airport in Fredericton.
You have already gone through two winters so you are equipped. I am sure you have your boots, gloves, and hats.
Yes. You would still need that wherever you are in Fredericton or pretty much any part of North America. Winters are cold but the people are extremely warm. I think people more than make up for the weather here.
How would you summarize your points to foreign investors on why they should invest in Fredericton and the region?
First one is your proximity to the US East Coast. The second one would be the cost of living. The cost of doing business here is significantly less than the cost of operations in the US or even in Toronto or other urban centres.
The cost of doing business here is significantly less than the cost of operations in the US or even in Toronto or other urban centres.
The third one is the quality of life in terms of your family. You would absolutely love it here. The nature, the trails, and the amazing trips that you can take, you definitely should do it.
If you could pitch anyone, what would you say to try to strengthen and even improve Fredericton’s attractiveness to foreign investors?
Two things I would say: one to the industry would be to have more conferences in the region specifically focused on deep, cutting-edge tech that companies here are working on already. That would be one and for people who are doing policy and infrastructure, to look at our connectivity here and improve the connectivity not only within Canada but also to the US from here.