Tech giant Garmin Canada has announced plans to further expand in Alberta, including hiring hundreds of additional employees.
The company, known globally for its cutting-edge GPS, fitness and outdoor technology, has unveiled the addition of a third floor to its existing building in Cochrane, which is also its Canadian headquarters.
The expansion will nearly double Garmin’s employment in the town and allow it to make room for 200 new local science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) jobs.
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“We moved here less than five years ago, employing a little over 100 people. Today we’re poised to cross the 200 mark and are running out of room,” Garmin Canada’s managing director Jim Rooney said.
“We’re just to the point right now where we’ve filled the building and we need a place to continue to grow.”
The company officially made Cochrane its home in 2018.
Unlike many other tech giants, it currently does not have any plans for downsizing or laying off staff. Rooney credits that to smart managing.
“When the economy was going crazy, we didn’t go and over-spend and we didn’t take on more than we could handle,” he pointed out.
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He also touts the expansion as a smart move, adding the company is well positioned to do it.
“The great thing about Garmin is we’re a conservative company that just kind of builds steadily along with the demand for our products.”
Rooney said while the company has seen demand growth of about 20 per cent over the past couple of years, he does expect it to soften over the next year or so.
“We’re probably not going to grow as much as we did over the last couple of years,” he pointed out. “But Garmin is still willing to make that investment.”
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It’s an investment the Town of Cochrane and the government of Alberta are happy to have. The Garmin facility is the heart of the town and not only has it provided jobs, it has also helped boost the town’s taxable assessment growth.
“Garmin Canada is a genuine Alberta startup success story,” Mayor of Cochrane Jeff Genung said. “The company attracts world-class talent and Cochrane attracts world-class people. We are pleased to be working together to continue building this community as a technology hub.”
Alberta’s minister of municipal affairs Rebecca Schulz told Global News tech space is still a space the government wants to be in.
“I would say this is still very much one of the areas we are focusing on in terms of economic growth.”
Schulz added luring companies here doesn’t necessarily equate to throwing money at them.
“It’s really about showing up. Being at the table,” she said.
“Having those discussions with those companies to say: ‘Look, what we have in Alberta is a unique value proposition. We have affordable housing. We have the beautiful mountains. We have the great quality of life. We have low taxes.’”
Construction of the third floor to the existing Garmin building will begin in early spring of this year. It’s expected to open in the spring of 2024.
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