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Changing Landscape, Changing Patterns: Examining the Geographic Differences in the Distribution of Different Types of Manufacturing Firms in Ontario, Canada

Authors: Godwin Arku*, The University of Western Ontario, Evan Cleave , Ryerson University , Robert Nutifafa Arku, University of Waterloo
Topics: Economic Geography, Urban Geography, Canada
Keywords: manufacturing, economic development policy, spatial analysis, clusters, ontario, Canada
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Over the past 20 years, the Province of Ontario, Canada has experienced a period of transition, with traditional manufacturing declining and advanced manufacturing firms and sectors emerging. This metamorphosis experienced in Ontario is similar to changes felt by other advanced economic regions in the United States and Europe, spurred on my globalization, technology change, loosening of trade regulations, and increasingly footloose manufacturing. As with governments in other advanced economies, in Ontario there has been a concerted policy effort emphasizing the development of industry clusters. Despite this, key issues of governance and where and how to invest public funds remain. To assuage these concerns, this paper considers the spatial configuration of firms within 26 manufacturing sub-sectors to identify areas with high concentrations – or clusters – of firms. This analysis relies on a firm intensity quotient that is derived from point density analysis. This approach serves as the basis for determining the spatial configuration of firms and presence of clusters. The 26 sub-sectors were assigned into one of three broad categories: traditional, evolving, and advanced manufacturing. This allows for the comparison of patterns observed across different types of manufacturing. The findings show that there are patterns of clustering in all sub-sectors, though different spatial configurations are apparent between traditional, advanced, and evolving sub-sectors. These differences have implications for both investment and governance. Based on the findings, investment needs to be directed towards areas with locational advantages, while regional perspectives and initiatives on cluster governance are needed.

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