Regional Investments

Economic Development in Waterloo Region

The Region of Waterloo, in partnership with the seven Area Municipalities, released the Waterloo Region Economic Development Strategy in 2015. Our collective vision is for Waterloo Region's economy to be "locally rooted, internationally competitive and globally renowned." The strategy includes four overarching goals, which will be achieved through more than 40 specific actions to be implemented by various organizations.

In 2016, the Waterloo Economic Development Corporation (Waterloo ECD) was created to support implementation of the Strategy. Waterloo EDC is the first corporation of its kind in Waterloo Region and is responsible for:

  • Investment attraction/foreign direct investment
  • Marketing and promotion of the region to business
  • Supporting key growth sectors

Waterloo EDC is funded by the Region of Waterloo and the seven Area Municipalities.

Land Readiness 

The Region of Waterloo’s Land Readiness Strategy is about creating good jobs in Waterloo Region for now and the generations to come. As our community continues to grow, the need for different types of jobs across a variety of industries and sectors becomes more important than ever – getting land ready for those future employers is the first step. 

In general, Land Readiness means looking at our region as a whole and identifying key locations that would be best suited for certain priority uses, such as new business or industrial parks (known as employment lands), affordable housing or future community needs like community centres or schools. 

It also includes preparing land to be ready for development. This typically includes completing environmental work, bringing utilities infrastructure to the site (such as hydro, water, wastewater pipes, etc.), grading the property, preparing possible transit upgrades and early urban planning for the site. 

Preparing land in this way makes it more attractive to companies and organizations looking to relocate or build a new location. It reduces the financial risk of the site and reduces barriers to their project being able to begin. 

By ensuring we have land shovel-ready, we enable global and local businesses to locate and expand in Waterloo Region, keeping innovation and economic prosperity front and centre in our community.  

ION Rapid Transit

The Region and its Federal and Provincial funding partners has investing $818 million into a rapid transit system that connects our cities, move people efficiently and helps shape our community. Stage 1 ION light rail transit (LRT) from north Waterloo to south Kitchener launched service in June 2019. Stage 1 ION also includes a bus rapid transit (BRT) system from south Kitchener to south Cambridge which started operations in 2015. In June 2019, Regional Council endorsed a full preferred Stage 2 ION route between Fairway Station and Downtown Cambridge. The Stage 2 ION created a seamless LRT route across the community's three urban centres.

The permanence of light rail has the ability to attract investment as seen in many communities in Canada and across the US. Many building developers along the ION line have openly attributed the success of their projects to being close to ION. The ION corridor has seen more than $3.2 billion in new construction value since 2011 to 2018 year end.

King-Victoria Transit Hub
The Region has purchased land at the corner of King and Victoria Streets in the heart of downtown Kitchener for a new central station. Funded by the Province, this $43-million investment will connect many different types of transportation including ION light rail, Grand River Transit buses, expanded GO trains and buses and the future planned high speed rail. At full potential, the development will also include retail stores, offices, condos and apartments as well as amenities for transit riders.
Region of Waterloo International Airport and Aviation Business Park

The Region of Waterloo International Airport (YKF) is a full-service facility that supports commercial, corporate and general aviation. The airport is home to 25 businesses that together employ 300 people and contribute $90 million to Waterloo Region's economy annually. In 2017, Regional Council approved a $375 million 20-year Airport Master Plan and 5-year Business Plan.

YKF's Aviation Business Park is idea for light industrial, commercial and aviation-related businesses. 30 acres of fully service land with secure airside access is available for development.

Scheduled air service provide by: 

Recently, the Region of Waterloo International Airport (YKF) announced that Stockyards will be opening a new food, beverage and retail service in late spring 2024. The space will feature a licensed sit down dining area, grab and go options and retail merchandise located within the departures lounge.

East Side Employment Lands
The Region has designated about 300 hectares of land for employment in the eastern part of Waterloo Region and is now completing studies with the City of Cambridge to prepare this land for development. Visit our Growth Management page for details on the East Side Lands project and studies.
Community Building Strategy
The Community Building Strategy was developed to coordinate ION station area planning and public investment with the Cities of Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo along the ION corridor. It helps to guide growth by encouraging improvements to public parks, streets and trails, downtowns and existing neighbourhoods. Visit our Growth Management page for more information about the Community Building Strategy.
TravelWise works with employers across Waterloo Region to encourage employees to take transit, cycle, walk and carpool to work. Employees of member organizations gain access to tools that make sustainable travel easier. TravelWise also benefits member organizations and businesses by helping with parking issues and meeting sustainability goals. When choosing a place to work, many employees want viable options for getting there sustainably. They also want to work for an employer that cares about its impact on the environment and the community. TravelWise can help with both.

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