UPDATE: Ottawa to play significant role in Cisco's $4B Ontario plan

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Cisco Systems’ new agreement with the Ontario government will create hundreds of jobs in Ottawa, according to Paul Howarth, the company’s director of research and innovation.

An image from inside Cisco's Silicon Valley offices.

By Jacob Serebrin

The U.S.-based information technology giant announced an ambitious plan on Friday that will see the company spend as much as $4 billion on its Ontario operations over the next decade.

The agreement, which will see the provincial government kick in as much as $220 million, calls for the company to add up to 1,700 high-tech jobs in Ontario over the next six years.

The agreement also includes a “framework with the potential” to increase the company’s Ontario-based head count to 5,000 by 2024, the company said in a press release.

Cisco currently employs over 300 people at its Kanata facility, the company’s largest in the province. Currently, Mr. Howarth said the company’s plan is to add jobs at its existing facilities. In addition to Ottawa, Cisco has smaller facilities in Toronto and Waterloo.

“It makes complete sense to expand what we have,” said Mr. Howarth. “It’s likely that the majority of new research and development positions will be in Kanata.”

The Kanata facility currently focuses on high-end routing, mobility and cloud-based initiatives, Mr. Howarth said, describing them as “important areas for Cisco globally.”

But, given the long-term nature of the deal, some elements of the company’s plans are still to be decided.

The specific number of new jobs that will be created in Ottawa could vary, said Mr. Howarth and the company has not yet made any decisions about expanding their Kanata facility, though Mr. Howarth said it’s not yet at capacity.

“For a company like Cisco,” he said the question is: “Do you have the right talent pool?”

According to Mr. Howarth, part of the draw of expanding in Ontario is the large number of universities in the region.

“There’s a very large number of engineering or computer science programs just in the Windsor-Montreal corridor,” he said. “The density of schools is incredible.”

Though, due to the large number of employees the company’s expansion plan requires, Mr. Howarth said Cisco would be recruiting both across Canada and internationally.

“This is an incredibly significant commitment to Canada and Ontario specifically,” said Mr. Howarth, adding that the province is helping to “drive the innovation machine for Cisco.”

Organizations: Cisco

Geographic location: Ontario, Ottawa, Kanata Toronto

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  • roger b
    December 24, 2013 - 14:12

    corporate welfare