Note: Visualizations by Adam Jacobs.
At MaRS Data Catalyst, we thought it would be cool to show you those statistics. Using Tableau Software, we created an interactive visualization to explore Canada’s small and medium enterprise landscape. Where is the job growth? Where is the highest growth in retail? Which provinces and cities have the most high-growth companies per capita?
Some of the results may surprise you.
We can see that employment trends are considerably different from the distribution of firms. For example, natural resources firms account for fewer than 4% of the PROFIT 500 total firm count, but they are the second-largest employer with over 10,000 total employees. In contrast, information technology (IT) firms are the most common—almost 16% of the top 500—but provide less overall employment than natural resources and business services.
Our next step was to map the firms to see where they are located and whether industries have identifiable geographic trends. Taking the same data, we created a map of the firms by industry across the country. We can see that IT firms are concentrated in and around Toronto, but also have a significant presence in Ottawa, Montreal, Vancouver and Edmonton.
The limitation of dot maps is that they tend to mirror the overall population distribution. Measuring anything in aggregate—the number of tweets, the number of jobs or the number of schools—will tend to reflect the underlying pattern of where people live. So it’s not surprising to see large dots for most industries in the highly populated regions around major cities.
To address this factor, we created a second thematic map of high-growth firms per million residents—what cartographers call a choropleth map—to show the density of PROFIT 500 firms by province. We see the same pattern playing out as in the first map: Ontario is again the leader in terms of high-growth firm density, followed by Alberta and British Columbia.
Nova Scotia’s appearance in fifth place at 9.5 high-growth firms per million residents is the highlight here: it is out-performing resource-rich provinces like Saskatchewan and the much more populous province of Quebec.
There are many other avenues to explore here and we’re delighted that PROFIT has made its data openly and easily available for this kind of analysis. We’ll continue to play with this data and will share more of our findings in the future.