Monday, July 02, 2012

RIM and Waterloo

I don't have any argument today, just a report of some things I've read. I have been trying to find information on Waterloo's vulnerability to the problems at RIM.

The Economic Times of India (link) says that nearly one third of the city of Waterloo's office/plant space is owned or leased by RIM. That seems like a lot, but the Waterloo Record supports the figure; it says that RIM occupies 2M SF of office/plant space (mostly in the city of Waterloo) in a total market across Waterloo Region of 12-13M SF.

The Record also says that the local layoff announcements will hit about 3,000 locally. Since our local RIM employee base pre-layoff was about 9,000, that would suggest that around 10% of our office space will become vacant due to this initial contraction of RIM.

The Economic Times also says of Waterloo, "The company has nourished virtually every family here; for, each job at RIM has created seven jobs." I haven't seen this anywhere else; I suppose it could be a general statistic? That figure suggests that the ripple effect of 3,000 layoffs could affect 20,000 other jobs. However, again according to The Record, there are currently 1,300 vacancies at local high-tech companies, which suggests an unemployed pool of more like 1,700, which times 7 is more like 12,000. Our area has some big hitters (Open Text, Sybase, Google, Desire2Learn, etc) as well as about 500 high-tech startups - and great infrastructure for promoting startups. No doubt, some talented RIM employees will not just find other jobs but will also start companies, reducing the ripple effect even further. So the total impact on area employment is unknown.

If anyone has any other info or thoughts, please leave a comment or send me an email.

Meanwhile, a video spoof has Steve Jobs doing a drive-by shooting of a BlackBerry in Uptown Waterloo (link).

RIM dominates the Waterloo real estate market
Life after RIM: Waterloo Region real estate and RIM
KW Real Estate discussion on Canadian Money Forum


1 comment:

carmilevy said...

I've written and commented extensively on RIM's journey in recent years, and the impact-on-Waterloo-and-region angle is the one that weighs most heavily on me. My take? Short-term, the impact will be significant. RIM is a pillar on any number of fronts, and it'll be hard to downplay the effects of having close to a third of the local employee base wiped out.

But there's a but.

Long-term, it's quite a different story. There's such deep and integrated infrastructure and partnership already in place - between government, business and academia - that I suspect Waterloo, more than anywhere else in the country, is ideally equipped to come out of this stronger than it is now. UW and WLU don't stop pumping out some of the best tech talent in North America just because RIM swoons. The Perimeter Institute and Communitech don't stop their groundbreaking work because of the fortunes of one company.

I wish other communities would follow the model that's in place here, as soon we'll see just how effective it is at absorbing major job losses and reallocating talent into new endeavours. I'm not usually a cheerleader for anyone or anything - byproduct of my being a journalist and an analyst...we're cynical to the core - but I see ample evidence of future-building potential that is far more than just talk.

Thanks for pulling this entry together. Great topic, and I'm glad you're shedding light on it. Can't wait to see what else you share!