Saskatoon

Saskatoon's tech sector a bright spot in local economy

It was a common question posed to the Saskatoon Economic Development Authority or SREDA, just how big is the city’s technology centre?

New report points to thousands of high paying jobs

A Saskatoon independent non-profit that helps grow the local economy by offering information and analysis has just completed a report on the city's technology sector. (Federico Sindra/Flickr)

It was a common question posed to the Saskatoon Economic Development Authority, just how big is the city's technology centre?

There is a long way to go.-  Alex Fallon 

"We keep hearing that it is growing and that it is a bright spot," said SREDA CEO Alex Fallon in an interview with CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning.  

So Fallon, and his SREDA team, an independent non-profit that helps grow the local economy by offering information and analysis, went to work to try and measure Saskatoon's tech sector.  

"It's a lot bigger than some people might think," Fallon said.

Alex Fallon, CEO of SREDA says that although Saskatoon's technology sector has seen many success stories, there is room for growth. (Guy Quenneville/CBC News)

Thousands of high tech jobs

It's an estimate, but SREDA's new report on the industry found 65 companies in the tech sector employing about 8,000 people in a variety of jobs, everything from app development to manufacturing. There are also many made in Saskatoon success stories.

"They've all shown that you can take your idea, you can start it here, you can turn it into a business, you can significantly grow it, you can create jobs, and you can stay here," said Fallon. "There is a support system in Saskatoon, there is a community, and there is a lot of support from provincial government and different organizations that help them."

But SREDA's report full of good news also contains a reality check, according to Fallon.  

"There is a long way to go if we want to get up to that large impact from the technology sector."

Reality check 

Right now the tech sector accounts for just 2.5 per cent of Saskatoon businesses, and 1.3 per cent of the province's jobs. That pales in comparison to provinces like Ontario. So, there is room to grow and Fallon sees potential for the tech sector to focus in on some of the powerhouses of Saskatchewan's economy.

"How do we build on those strengths to become a bit of a centre or hub to agriculture tech or mining tech?"

As for the future of the sector, Fallon is taking a conservative view in calling for two to six per cent growth over the short term.

"I hope I am proven wrong."

Fallon admitted that it would really only take one or two success stories in Saskatoon to make the growth numbers in the tech sector increase dramatically. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Danny Kerslake is an award-winning journalist who has worked in radio stations across Western Canada. In his career with CBC Saskatchewan, Danny has reported from every corner of the province and has lived and worked in Saskatoon, Regina and Prince Albert. Danny is a newsreader and digital AP for CBC Saskatoon.

with files from Saskatoon Morning

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