The City of Surrey is home to one of Canada’s most resilient economies, as demonstrated through the results of our Business Pulse Survey. This survey goes beyond routine check-ins – it's a strategic tool, offering valuable insights into Surrey's dynamic business landscape. For international organizations looking to expand into Canada, this provides an exclusive look into our business ecosystem. Join us as we delve into Surrey's current business scene.
Rapid Growth Propels Surrey as BC’s Investment Destination
The City of Surrey is set to become the most modern and livable city in Canada, recognized as a regional nexus for commerce and a national center for innovation. The vibrancy and opportunities that our city already provides has been a beacon for people across the world, and catalyst for impressive population growth. This amounts to over 1000 new people moving to Surrey every month, in large part due to immigration policies favoring global talent. In addition to being BC’s largest city and most centrally located in Metro Vancouver, this pace sets us to soon surpass Vancouver’s population. Within two decades Surrey will be the geographic and population epicenter of Canada’s West Coast.
To support this vision, it's critical that the city stays informed on the challenges, opportunities, strengths, and weaknesses facing Surrey's business community. The Business Pulse Survey allows our team to check in with thousands of businesses across all sectors to gather direct feedback on how they’re performing and what issues they face.
Encouragingly, the survey attracted participation from businesses located across all six of Surrey’s town centers, signaling wide engagement across the city. The respondents also represented a diverse cross-section of Surrey’s business landscape, spanning key industries like manufacturing, healthcare, education, retail, construction, and more. Here are our initial results.
Business Performance Signals Economic Recovery
We asked businesses to describe how things were going compared to six months prior. We anticipated that the answers to this question would reflect the uncertain nature of the current global economy with factors like high inflation and interest rates. The results were mixed, indicating that global market factors impact businesses differently. Favorably, over half (55%) of participants noted that things are steady or improving; however, 45% noted that some aspect of their business was in decline. We shed some light on this in the following sections, and we’ll gain a better understanding of potential challenges in future engagements.
Smooth Operations as Supply Disruptions Ease
While supply chain disruptions have heavily impacted businesses worldwide during the pandemic, trade corridors are normalizing. Most respondents (63%) indicated they faced no serious issues obtaining inventory or supplies at the time of the survey. This may be specific to Surrey due to our proximity to major ports, international airports, and other transportation networks that connect Surrey to the rest of the world. However, some manufacturers and construction firms indicated they continue to grapple with supply chain challenges. Of those impacted limited material availability, delivery delays, and rising transportation costs topped the list of concerns. These issues are concentrated around specific markets rather than an indication of the supply chain in general, and these businesses have been able to adapt by stockpiling extra inventory and diversifying both their transportation modes and network of suppliers.
Local Talent in High Demand
Interestingly, 60% of respondents suggested that their employees also lived in Surrey with the remainder coming from neighboring municipalities. Conversely, about 5% suggested that their workforce was primarily remote, demonstrating that in a world where many jobs can be done from everywhere, there is a strong demand for our local talent.
Surrey boasts campuses for three of BC’s top universities, in addition to several colleges and trade schools. Furthermore, newcomers to Surrey are younger and more educated than the regional population’s average. As we grow to become the region’s most populated city, these shifting demographics are ideal for deploying the diverse and highly skilled workforce needed by the businesses that call Surrey home.
Participants told us that only about 2 in 5 businesses have trouble in attracting employees, with even fewer suggesting that they were experiencing any sort of labour shortage. Challenges included skills training, transportation access, or losing employees to other companies. Despite these obstacles, over 50% of respondents expect their workforce to remain stable or even grow in the coming months, signaling optimism among Surrey employers. Businesses in the town centers of South Surrey and Cloverdale cited limited transportation options as a contributing factor to attracting retaining workers. Fortunately, these communities will benefit directly from the SkyTrain rapid rail expansion linking Surrey City Centre further east and the newly announced dedicated Bus Rapid Transit lines connecting north and south that will soon be under way.
Funding Opportunities Abound
One of the other benefits of having a business in Surrey is access to many impactful grants and funding opportunities from the Provincial and Federal Governments. These come in the form of various tax incentives, significant grants for large greenfield investments, wage subsidies, funding to upskill your employees, grants to adopt or develop advanced technology, among others.
One recent success is Surrey-based Keirton Inc, who received significant funding though the federally funded supercluster, Next Generation Manufacturing Canada (Ngen), to develop new AI/Machine Vision Quality Control systems. This $234 million fund is currently accepting applications for technology development to assist with mining, minerals, and manufacturing for both lunar and terrestrial environments, as well as the commercialization of quantum technologies.
Though many respondents have not applied for any funding opportunities recently. Those that did, received funding towards skills training and wage subsidies—both vital to developing and maintaining a strong local workforce. While we always encourage local businesses to apply for funding opportunities, we will be looking at new ways to broadcast available tools. If you need a hand establishing your operation in Canada our team is here to help.
Join the Conversation
The Business Pulse Survey provides an important forum for the business community to inform efforts to help local enterprises thrive! We’re looking forward to assessing our next batch of surveys and business visits in the spring of 2024.
Until then, your perspectives are critical to nurturing an environment where businesses can succeed now and into the future. Please reach out to Invest Surrey at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any feedback related to operating in Surrey or are looking to make Surrey the next location for your business.