The Economic Advantages
of Head Offices
Saskatchewan needs to attract and retain corporate head offices
MARTIN CHARLTON COMMUNICATIONS
At this time a year ago, this space was devoted to the conversation
centred on head offices in this province. Most
notably, the story of where Nutrien’s corporate operations
would be centred was garnering the headlines that brought the topic to the
forefront. While the Nutrien issue seems to have settled itself, the broader
topic of head offices remains top of mind thanks to a new StatsCan report.
It assesses how various cities in the country perform on a global scale
looking at the merchandise trade balance for individual communities
alongside the national picture. What we find is most intriguing.
Saskatoon, it turns out, is one of the most potent places in the country
on this metric. The city saw imports of roughly $2 billion last year,
while exports were $6 billion. This resulted in a trade surplus of just
under $4 billion. Only Calgary at $60 billion and Winnipeg at $7 billion
produced higher numbers in real terms. And on a percentage basis,
Saskatoon showed even more strength, sitting at No. 2 in Canada behind
The lesson we can draw from this is that head offices are important to a
local economy. With Canpotex headquartered in Saskatoon, the city gets to
include the dollar value of global potash exports in its numbers. Similarly,
Calgary gets credit for oil exports and Winnipeg enjoys a couple corporate
offices in the grain business, triggering big volumes.
It is the Calgary number that is so stark, however – $60 billion. Three out
of four dollars in global trade from Calgary find their way into the surplus
as its exports total nearly $90 billion compared to $28 billion in imports.
When you look at the number of buildings in downtown Calgary, you
can’t help but see that head offices have value in terms of investment, decision
making and job creation. Saskatchewan is the second largest oil
producer in the country but has no head offices and, coincidentally, no
downtown office buildings in either Regina or Saskatoon.
Clearly, a focus on head office attraction and retention would be a helpful
element of policy formation in this province because, as it sits right now,
one of the few, if not the only, forces for retention of corporate headquarters
is our First Nations community. When they buy companies, they keep
the corporate headquarters in the province.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The lesson we can draw
from this is that head
offices are important
to a local economy.
60 Think BIG | Quarter 1 2020 | saskheavy.ca