Investment firm says Charlottetown best city in Canada to do business

Dave Stewart dstewart@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on May 29, 2014

Adam Runge

©Submitted photo

The senior officer with a global investment management firm says there is no better place to do business than Charlottetown.

Adam Runge with Invesco Ltd. says he agrees wholeheartedly with a recent study by KPMG International that named the P.E.I. capital city the best city for business costs in Canada when it comes to corporate services.

Invesco opened an office on Queen Street in Charlottetown in 2007 during the city's ongoing efforts to reignite the downtown core.

"We've been in the market now since 2007 and our growth has been amazing,'' Runge said in an interview. "We started with 24 people and we're now at 270 and looking to grow more.''

He believed in the Charlottetown market so much that Runge packed up his wife and two young children and moved to the city from Toronto.

KPMG's bi-annual study — Competitive Alternatives - Guide to International Business Location Costs for 2014, also ranked Charlottetown as the lowest cost capital city in Canada and the fourth most cost-effective city studied in all of North America for overall business costs. The study comprised of 10 countries and more than 130 cities.

The study measured 26 key cost components for doing business, looking at wages and salaries, government pension plans, medical plans, unemployment insurance, workers' compensation, private health insurance, office leasing, factory leasing, industrial land, transportation costs, utility costs, the cost of capital, taxes other than income and income taxes.

Mayor Clifford Lee said the study is further proof that Charlottetown is solid as an investment.

"This is validation of the work that so many people in our community have put into making Charlottetown a great location for investment,'' Lee said. "That said, it's important to note that we do not rest on any laurels. We will continue to improve the business environment here and we will work to make our city even more attractive to potential investors.''

Runge said empirical studies like the KPMG report are great but even after numbers are crunched and data is gathered the bottom line for companies like Invesco is people.

"There's no doubt about it. You can be told all these different things but until you're in the market and you're dealing with the people that are committed to your business (you find) that they are loyal, they are smart and they are talented.

"We've been able to do more things with P.E.I. just through the labour force and (workers') dedication than we ever thought we would do.''

Invesco deals with high-end customer service for financial services which is where it started when the Charlottetown office opened. Now the company has 50 employees working in technology and IT roles.

Runge acknowledges Charlottetown is small and that it presents issues when it comes to the labour force but that small size also works to Invesco's advantage.

It enables companies like that to foster stronger partnerships with the city and the provincial government.

"Being able to reach out to the head of Innovation P.E.I. or, quite frankly, being able to talk to the minister of innovation or the premier if you have to and have them engaged in your business is important. It's very unique. Traditionally, doing business with governments could be difficult but in P.E.I., all along the way, it's been nothing but support for us.''

Runge said the local culture, the friendliness of the people, the desire to help out, the customer service orientation sets Charlottetown and P.E.I. apart from other locations.

"I've made it my passion to grow the organization out here. We've found a great niche in that marketplace. We took a risk going into a small market and it has paid off, big time.''

dstewart@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/DveStewart