City tech sector soaring back - Metro US

City tech sector soaring back

Seven years after a crash gutted Ottawa’s high-tech sector, there are more people employed in technology here than ever before, a new survey finds.

This time, small and medium-sized firms — not giants like Nortel — are leading the charge as 1,819 local technology companies employ 81,910 workers, up three per cent from the year before, according to the Ottawa Centre for Research and Innovation (OCRI) survey released yesterday.

“We’re on a long road back from where we were in the 2000-2001 era,” said Tyler Chamberlin, an assistant professor of high-tech management at the University of Ottawa’s Telfer School of Management. “Hopefully, this is perceived to be a victory among high-tech firms.

“It’s encouraging, I think, to see these reports.”

The number of tech companies has increased 85 per cent and most of those are small and medium-sized businesses. And while Ottawans may be skeptical after the crash, people can be optimistic these jobs will stick, said Jeffrey Dale, president and CEO of OCRI.

“This year, we surpassed where we were in 2000, which was our last high just before the telecom bubble burst, said Dale. “People are being hired by the ones, twos, threes and fours, not by the hundreds.”

Ottawa’s PlascoEnergy, which converts waste to energy, expects to hire 170 new people to help install its systems around the world, said Rod Bryden, CEO of PlascoEnergy.

Mxi Technologies was another local star, expanding its workforce by 60 per cent in 2007. “We plan to continue increasing our capacity in 2008,” said president Les Hine.

Diversification has helped Ottawa rebound as a high-tech sector, said Dale. “This industry is back bigger and better than ever.”

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