The recent layoffs of 4500 BlackBerry employees is a big hurdle for the Waterloo region, but the tech-focused community is better prepared than ever to absorb the shock, says one expert.
Iain Klugman, CEO of Communitech, was on BNN’s Business Day this morning to talk about BlackBerry’s recent woes and the decision of another tech giant, Google, to make a big bet on the region.
Klugman says there’s no getting around the fact that there will be pain felt it the area.
“It’s going to hurt.” he says. “It’s a lot of jobs, but we do have over a thousand tech companies in the Waterloo region. There’s a whole raft of small medium and large companies that are still doing extremely well.”
Klugman points to companies such as Open Text, COM DEV and Descartes Systems as established names who have made recent hires. Tipping his hat to BlackBerry, he says the multinational smart phone maker put the region on the map because it was not only a huge success story, it was a consumer based company, where many of Waterloo’s major players have tended to be business to business in their models.
“(BlackBerry) really put us on the map as being a major tech community globally, he says.
Klugman points out that there are now more than a thousand tech companies in the region, and the area is hot enough that Google has taken an interest.
Yesterday, Communitech announced that it been selected to join Google Tech Hub Network. The California-based company will offer funding and technical support to the region, and strengthen its ties to area entrepreneurs through Communitech.
BlackBerry layoffs, which have come incrementally for the better part of two years, appear to catching up with the area. Between August of 2012 and August, 2013 unemployment in the Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo area rose from 6.6% to 8%, as just under 5000 jobs were shed.