Investigating the Location Pattern of Information and Communication Technology Firms: Case of Vancouver
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Despite the volume of literature examining the role of producer amenities (e.g., highways and airports) in firms’ selection of a location, almost no quantitative studies regard the impact of consumer amenities (e.g., theatres and cafes) in attracting firms, as they are hypothesized to attract residents rather than firms or companies. Since the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector is regarded as a significant driver and an increasingly important part of the economy in North American and European countries, this research aims to provide insight into the importance of consumer amenities in the location pattern of companies in this sector. Consumer amenities are stated to be important factors in the lifestyle of creative and talented workers such as employees of high-tech industries (Florida, 2003); therefore, this study hypothesizes that ICT firms tend to locate near consumer amenities as they are assumed to be attractive to the talented and highly educated workers that those firms want to employ. ICT firms, because of their size and use, can also be integrated into existing land use, such as downtown where there are lots of amenities. Industrial uses would be more likely to locate near highways because of their land requirements. This thesis looks at a broad pattern as an exploratory study to see if there is a location pattern between consumer amenities and ICT firms’ location. Using census data from Canadian industries, this thesis focuses on exploring a spatial pattern for distribution of ICT companies, both with regards to amenities and the location of firms in other industries. In doing so, information of 66,078 firms that operate in Vancouver and their associated data were obtained from Statistics Canada and the Canadian Business Database. A walkability index is also developed that represents the amenity variable. The findings of this study suggest that ICT firms are more likely to be found in areas with a high concentration of consumer amenities. However, the result shows that there is statistically weak relationship between location of ICT firms and existence of consumer amenities, but this relationship is generally not detected for firms in other sectors. Moreover, the most significant finding of this thesis is that there is a tendency for ICT firms to locate close to and concentrated in downtown cores. As a result, the findings demonstrate that the agglomeration factor in ICT firms’ location decision is more important than the existence of consumer amenities in the place. This study concludes by suggesting that municipalities and their local economic development specialists wanting to attract regional economic growth to better understand and focus on the determinant elements of location decision by ICT firms.