International Investment

Situated at the eastern gateway of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), Durham Region offers prime access to Canada’s largest market of over five million people, and 135 million more American and Canadian customers within a day’s drive.

Durham’s land, location, people, infrastructure and balanced living offer a highly skilled labour force, diverse economic base, superior quality of life and competitive business costs. Canadian companies have an unparalleled access to the U.S. and Mexican markets through the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Durham Region offers a perfect launching pad into those markets, which provides companies secure access to more than 400 million consumers and a $19-trillion (U.S.) marketplace.

Durham is within a 30 minute drive of downtown Toronto and is part of the GTA’s interactive digital media cluster. Growing at a rate of 10 per cent annually, it is the third largest digital media cluster in North America behind only New York and California. By emphasizing digital education, Durham Region is a key player in this growth towards new technology in the areas of digital media, agritech, health tech, advanced manufacturing, clean tech, information tech.


Durham is within a 30 minute drive of downtown Toronto and is part of the GTA’s interactive digital media cluster. Growing at a rate of 10 per cent annually, it is the third largest digital media cluster in North America behind only New York and California. By emphasizing digital education, Durham Region is a key player in this growth towards new technology in the areas of digital media, agritech, health tech, advanced manufacturing, clean tech and information tech.

In the past decade, the urban areas in south Durham Region have experienced rapid growth of its residential, industrial and commercial sectors. North Durham is predominantly rural, with a thriving agricultural sector. It also lies within the provincially designated Greenbelt and contains the environmentally significant Oak Ridges Moraine.

Digital technology companies are drawn to Durham Region because of its stable and growing economy, access to dynamic post-secondary institutions, skilled and reliable workforce, environment of innovation and collaboration, proximity to market, competitive business costs, high quality of life and affordable cost of living.

Map of Durham Region

Real Estate

The Region of Durham has a wide range of shovel-ready employment lands to accommodate new investment and business expansions, with even more development lands being planned to meet the rapid growth the region is experiencing.

Prime development opportunities are available in all sectors with a wide range of industrial and commercial land and buildings at one of the lowest rates in the GTA. Ample availability of office, industrial, and distribution space, office and retail space, as well as build-to-suit opportunities are supported by stable and reasonably-priced utilities. The region also benefits from some of the lowest commercial costs and lease rates in the GTA, typically about half the cost of the GTA average.

Office Rent Rates in Durham Region are Lower Than Those of the Rest of the GTA


GTA East Downtown Midtown Central North Central East GTA North GTA West
Office Inventory 6,844,011 70,532,020 17,332,440 11,040,099 17,657,566 15,716,416 47,807,532
Vacancy Rate 9.0% 3.8% 4.7% 2.5% 7.7% 7.1% 8.2%
Availability Rate 8.0% 8.6% 7.0% 6.2% 11.3% 11.0% 12.1%
Average Asking Net Rent $11.65 $26.65 $18.25 $16.76 $13.26 $15.86 $14.58
Average Additional Rent $14.68 $23.07 $18.79 $19.31 $14.45 $12.76 $12.86
Average Asking Gross Rent $26.33 $49.72 $37.04 $36.07 $27.71 $28.62 $27.44

Source: Colliers Toronto Office Market report and the Colliers Toronto Industrial market report


The province’s R&D tax incentives are among the most generous in the G7. A $100 R&D expenditure can be reduced to an after-tax cost of about $61, or $37 for small businesses.

Each year, more than $14.6 billion is spent on R&D in Ontario by industry, governments, hospitals, academic and research institutions, and private non-profit organizations.

In 2013-14, OMDC delivered an estimated $518 million in tax credits to Ontario’s book publishing, film, television, music and interactive digital media sectors to support 2,689 projects with budgets totalling $4.8 billion.

The 2013 Interactive Digital Media (IDM) Fund investment of $3.0 million leveraged an additional $3.8 million for 23 interactive projects, resulting in more than 2,800 weeks of work for Ontario creators. The Canadian video game sector is anticipated to grow at an annual rate of 5.1% to US $1.4 billion by 2017, outpacing most other entertainment and media categories.

Incentive Programs

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Labour Force

Durham has a long history as a community with a highly skilled and specialized labour force. It provides close proximity to Toronto, Canada’s largest commercial centre, and access to key service players. Durham’s established expertise in training and attracting the next generation of professionals has been nurtured and enhanced with high level post-secondary programming, research and development, as well as quality employers.

Employers benefit from having access to this well-educated and highly skilled workforce, competitive wages, publicly-funded health care and a workers’ compensation system, which provides employers and workers with no-fault workplace accident insurance.

Competitive Employment Health Tax is well below that of other G7 countries.
The overall labour costs in Canada are also amongst the lowest in the G7.


  • More than 20,000 skilled ICT workers in a labour force of 225,000 in the region.
  • Access to 148,000 ICT workers in the Greater Toronto Area, all within an hour’s drive or public transportation via GO Transit train.
  • Many of these workers have experience working in other major ICT clusters including California and India.

Labour Force Info

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Ontario’s R&D tax credits are the most generous of the G7 countries. Combined with federal R&D programs, Ontario’s R&D Tax Program can reduce your after-tax cost of every $100 in R&D spending to between $61 and $37 (visit for more details on Ontario’s R&D Tax Program).

It’s not surprising that in 2014, KPMG Competitive Alternatives ranked Canada ahead of most major industrialized countries in a comparison of R&D costs, citing a Canadian cost advantage of close to 16% over the U.S.

Ontario’s corporate income tax rate (provincial and federal combined) is lower than any US state, Japan or France. Ontario’s employer payroll tax rates (pension, health and unemployment in total) are also the lowest of all G7 countries. To learn more about corporate tax go here


Durham region has an integrated transportation network that allows for easy and efficient movement of goods and people. The system includes provincial and regional highways with international linkages, cargo-loading and deep-sea shipping ports, transcontinental and commuter railway lines, as well as access to an interactional airport.

Transportation in Durham

Click below to learn more about Durham’s access to markets.
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Soft Landing Program

In the world of digital economy, location isn’t as much of a factor as it is in more traditional sectors. Technology being created and developed in one part of the world, is bought and implemented in another. Collaborations and partnerships take place between parties in different corners of the globe, and create opportunities for entrepreneurs like never before. That part is easy; the question is how do you find those opportunities?

Durham’s communities are thriving with entrepreneurship start-up activity. The region has a commercial potential for advanced technologies because of easy access to innovation, world-class learning and R&D facilities, talent pool, and strong start-up support system.

To attract innovative companies to the region and to give local start-ups exposure to business opportunities around the world, we have created a soft landing program. It provides opportunities to obtain support and resources for the right connections to help open new markets, close international sales or connect with new partners.

The program aims to:


  • Attract international start-ups to promote their technology and innovation in Durham Region;
  • Facilitate setting up strategic outposts in Durham Region by offering companies resources and support;
  • Foster collaboration with academia and industry for the adoption of new technology through match-making services;
  • Enable local industry to collaborate in innovation and technology development with local and international partners; and
  • Act as a launching pad to the North American market and international markets.

Click here to apply to the Soft Landing Program.

Interested in Our Soft Landing Program?

To learn more about program information and qualifications, contact Kasia Chojecki: