Competitive Advantages

Why Winnipeg is the place to start from.

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Dollar for dollar, Winnipeg is a great place to run a business. Low corporate taxes, low skilled labour rates, low energy costs, low health-care premiums, low transportation costs. The list goes on.

A Dollar is a Dollar: Save Money in Winnipeg

Companies simply can't compete unless the cost of doing business makes sense. No matter where these savings come from—whether from land, labour, utilities and/or incentives, for example—Winnipeg is a leader when it comes to places with advantageous business environments.

Word is spreading about the city's favourable standing relative to its competitors. In  KPMG's Competitive Alternatives (2016) report, Winnipeg has the lowest overall business costs in Western Canada, and its costs are lower than every U.S. city surveyed.

Winnipeg's cost advantage is predominantly derived from land, labour and utilities/energy savings, and it is further enabled by comparatively low costs of living and government-covered health-care costs.

Proof Positive: Canada is a Competitive Alternative

KPMG's Competitive Alternatives (2016) report notes that Canadian business tax costs average 47 per cent less when compared to the U.S. 

Note: total tax index includes corporate income tax, other corporate taxes and statutory labour costs.

Local business leaders are often asked what differentiates Winnipeg. One answer that repeatedly comes up concerns its supportive business community. Formally and informally, great things happen here.

Formal and Informal Support

Ask any business leader in Winnipeg what sets the city apart from other places, and invariably a top answer involves its supportive business community. Both formally and informally, deals get done.

From a well-supported chamber of commerce to robust industry associations, Winnipeg ostensibly appears to boast institutions similar to those found in other cities. And yet Winnipeg has a far deeper pool of these formal organizations than competing jurisdictions. From a provincial business council to a group called the Associates of the Asper School of Business at the University of Manitoba—to cite just two examples among many—Winnipeg's business leaders have multiple opportunities to connect with their peers within structured environments like these.

But if Winnipeg has a secret weapon, it's the informal ways these prominent citizens help make things happen for each other. Even in cases where those involved are direct competitors, Winnipeg's business elite are hardwired to assist each other with advice, opportunities and solutions that contribute to the overall health of the city.

Manitoba Government Programs

Below is a list of some of the most compelling government-administered programs now available to assist Manitoba-based businesses. Other sector-specific tax credit programs are offered as well, some of which EDW highlights here. EDW can help you navigate the programs most applicable to your industry.

  • Manitoba Manufacturing Investment Tax Credit (MITC): Provides a 9 per cent tax credit applicable against Manitoba corporate income tax payable for new and used buildings, machinery and equipment used directly in the manufacturing process.
  • Industry Workforce Development (IWD): Assists companies by contributing to their investment in skills training for employees. 
  • Manitoba Industrial Opportunities Program (MIOP): Provides secured loan or loan guarantee assistance to recipient companies in return for fixed asset investment and long term job creation.


Our workers are hard-working, educated and ready to help companies succeed. Averaging the second-highest labour productivity growth in Canada from 2010 through 2015, Manitobans know what it takes to get the job done.

Dedicated, Talented, Affordable

Winnipeggers are hard-working, educated and ready to help local companies succeed. They have a proven track record of commitment to their city, and to its businesses and its economy. The reputation of any given company—and the quality of the products and/or services it offers—is only as good as the people standing behind it. And in Winnipeg, these people are of the highest calibre.

The city's business leaders repeatedly applaud the skill and dedication of the local workforce in accounting for their collective achievements. Both in terms of quality and quantity, Winnipeg's labour force is a key contributor to the success of local firms. Top-notch graduates from Winnipeg's colleges and universities—and government programs designed to attract skilled workers to the province—make Winnipeg an ideal place to locate or expand a business.

Winnipeg's Workforce: Competitive and Committed

  • Manitobans work an average tenure of 108.1 months, more than four months above the Canadian average.
  • Across all industries, Winnipeg has the lowest average weekly earnings among Canada's 12 largest cities.
  • Manufacturing sector wages in Winnipeg are among the most competitive of any major city in Canada at $880 weekly, over eight per cent lower than the Canadian average of $952.
  • In 2014, Manitoba's percentage of unionized workers in the private sector decreased (to 18 per cent from 18.5 per cent).
  • In 2015, Manitoba was the third-youngest province in Canada; as of July 1, 2015, Manitoba's median age was 37.7 years.
  • In 2013, Manitoba's productivity showed well. Firms operating in Manitoba lost only six workdays for every 1,000 employees for all industries. This rate was significantly lower than the national rate of 100 days.

Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program: A Model for North America

The Manitoba workforce continues to grow due in part to a best-in-class provincial nominee program, which targets immigrants with particular skills to meet the needs of Manitoba's industries, including:

  • Overseas recruitment matching business needs.
  • Expedited process; Consistent 95 per cent retention rate in Manitoba.
  • Post-arrival, intake and training services through Manitoba START program.
  • Over 16,000 new workers arrived here via the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program in 2014.

Situated at the geographic centre of North America, Winnipeg—'Gateway to the West'—enjoys an enduring legacy as a key transportation hub for several major continental and global transportation routes.

Winnipeg has a rich heritage as a transportation hub. It's been called the ‘Gateway to the West'—and that mentality remains today. Winnipeg is situated at the geographic centre of North America and is the northern gateway of the Mid-Continent Trade and Transportation Corridor.

Mid-Continent Trade and Transportation Corridor

The Mid-Continent Trade and Transportation Corridor consists of a series of interconnected transportation systems—including rail, road, air and marine options—running through the centre of North America from the Arctic Port of Churchill in northern Manitoba and through the American heartland to Mexico. Over $10 billion in annual two-way trade occurs between Manitoba and the U.S.

map of Mid-Continent trade and transportation corridor between Mexico and Canada

Key cities along this corridor include Winnipeg, Minneapolis, Kansas City (Kansas), Kansas City (Missouri), Oklahoma City, Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio, Monterrey, Guadalajara and Mexico City.

The northern limit of this corridor, Manitoba's Port of Churchill, provides North America with marine access to and from global markets and is linked by rail to southern transportation routes. Winnipeg has a major intermodal transfer centre and Provincial Highway No. 75 connecting the province with the United States Interstate system's I-29 and I-35. I-35 connects the United States to Mexico through the southern Port of Laredo.

Location, Location, Location

Winnipeg is a critical transportation centre between Vancouver and Toronto, and it's the only major city between Thunder Bay and Vancouver with direct rail connections to the United States. The city also boasts a celebrated new airport that continues to win accolades, and some of Canada's biggest trucking firms are headquartered here.

Parked at the intersection of key trade and transportation corridors heading in all directions, Winnipeg is also home to CentrePort Canada, North America's largest inland port, which boasts foreign trade zone benefits. This 20,000-acre initiative expedites the movement of goods economically and efficiently to North American, Asian and European markets.

Winnipeg has one of the best R&D tax regimes in the industrialized world. And when added to other attributes like our educational institutions and our talented workforce, we come out ahead every time.

Ultra-Competitive R&D Environment

Winnipeg belongs at the top of the list when it comes to places that encourage research and development. From tax breaks to talent, Winnipeg's unique R&D environment helps make the city a main attraction for companies with significant R&D components. The fact that the city's post-secondary institutions graduate highly skilled professionals who stay and work right here is a tremendous boon to area businesses, whether their products are destined for international locales or domestic markets. The R&D-related collaboration that exists between industry and academia is a real asset.

Winnipeg's colleges and universities are in constant contact with the city's business community to ensure that graduates are trained with the specialized skills required to excel within critical industry sectors. Moreover, these schools regularly dialogue with each other to ensure that the programs each institution offers remain relevant. Added to this advantageous mix is the provincial government's participation in this process: various departments are closely aligned with local businesses and schools to ensure that Winnipeg stays a highly viable—and productive—R&D destination.

Federal and Provincial R&D Programs

Federal and provincial incentives geared toward R&D help Manitoba-based businesses succeed. Other potentially applicable programs are offered as well. Let EDW help you navigate the programs most relevant to your industry.

  • Scientific Research & Experimental Development (SR+ED): A federal tax incentive program that encourages Canadian businesses to conduct R&D in Canada.
  • Manitoba Research & Development Tax Credit: Top up to Federal SR+ED Program: A 20 per cent tax credit applied against Manitoba corporate income tax payable.
  • Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC – IRAP): Provides support to small and medium-sized enterprises in Canada in the development and commercialization of technologies.
  • Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC): Assists and provides financial support to universities, colleges and other organizations to encourage academic-industrial collaboration.
  • University of Manitoba Technology Transfer Program: Makes research available to partners with no financial commitment until the company itself starts making money from the technology.
  • Red River College (RRC) Industry Partnership Programs: Provide industry workforce training and financial benefits to both industry and RRC, ex: Centre for Aerospace Technology and Training (CATT), and the Centre for Non-Destructive Inspection (CNDI).

Winnipeg has among the lowest published electricity rates in North America for small, midsized and large consumers. As well, nearly all electricity Manitoba Hydro generates comes from self-renewing water power.

Manitoba Hydro: Clean, Renewable, Reliable

A provincial Crown corporation, Manitoba Hydro has maintained its position as one of the lowest-cost providers of electricity in Canada, and it's also a major distributor of natural gas in the province. Nearly all electricity Manitoba Hydro generates each year—over 98 per cent—comes from self-renewing water power, a major asset to Winnipeg companies growing increasingly conscious of the ethical and economic benefits associated with having a low carbon footprint.

As many jurisdictions introduce carbon-tax legislation, Manitoba's clean energy is becoming a tangible competitive financial advantage

Manitoba Hydro has become an essential partner to the local business community, investing nearly half a billion dollars annually in capital program refurbishment to ensure the availability of low cost, reliable energy well into the future. In addition, Manitoba Hydro's various Power Smart programs offer a range of savings and incentives to companies.


Our quality of life is often cited as a major reason why Winnipeg businesses can attract and retain the skilled workers needed to keep these firms competitive. Find out why we love it here so much.

Local Businesses Love Winnipeg

Winnipeg's got a lot going for it. Our quality of life is a key reason the city's business community can find—and keep—the skilled workers they need to help them stay competitive. National recruiters agree that Winnipeg is one of the toughest cities from which to lure talent away. We've got the NHL's Winnipeg Jets. We've also got Winnipeg Blue Bombers football and Winnipeg Goldeyes baseball. There's always world-renowned musicians coming through town to play at some of the most respected venues in the country. And we can't forget about Winnipeg's locally produced events, either: there's the Winnipeg Folk Festival, Folklorama, Festival du Voyageur. The list goes on.

Life in Winnipeg: Heart of the Action

Take a look at the quick snapshot of possibilities presented below, and we think you'll understand why Winnipeggers—newcomers and generation-spanning inhabitants alike—really love where they live.

  • Live, Work and Play: All the amenities of a big city but with a ‘small town' feel; available, accessible and affordable.
  • Recreation: Four seasons and virtually all sports, including hunting, fishing, water-sports, and the highest per capita golf participation in Canada.
  • The Great Outdoors: Assiniboine Park and Zoo, Bird's Hill Provincial Park, Riding Mountain National Park, Grand Beach, 100,000+ lakes, the highest cottage ownership in Canada per capita.
  • Arts and Culture: Theatre, ballet, symphony, festivals, museums, galleries, hundreds of restaurants featuring dozens of culinary styles.
  • Concerts: One of North America's busiest arenas (MTS Centre).
  • Shopping: Forks Market, several major shopping malls, Seasons of Tuxedo, Osborne Village, the Exchange District.

Want to Know More?

For more great information about life in Winnipeg, we invite you to explore the Live Here section of this website.

Economic Development Winnipeg

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