Kitchener is a city in the Canadian province of Ontario. It is one of three cities that make up the Regional Municipality of Waterloo, and is the regional seat. The Regional Municipality of Waterloo is the 10th-largest census metropolitan area (CMA) in Canada and the fourth-largest CMA in Ontario. Kitchener and Waterloo are considered "twin cities", which are often referred to jointly as "Kitchener–Waterloo" (K–W), although they have separate municipal governments.
Kitchener's economic heritage is rooted in manufacturing. Industrial artefacts are in public places throughout the city as a celebration of its manufacturing history. In 2012, 20.36% of the labour force was employed in the manufacturing sector.
The city is home to four municipal business parks: the Bridgeport Business Park, Grand River West Business Park, Huron Business Park and Lancaster Corporate Centre. The largest, the Huron Business Park, is home to a number of industries, from seat manufacturers to furniture components.
Kitchener's economy has diversified to include new high-value economic clusters. In addition to Kitchener's internationally recognised finance and insurance and manufacturing clusters, digital media and health science clusters are emerging within the city.
Beginning in 2004, the City of Kitchener launched several initiatives to reenergise the downtown core. These initiatives included heavy investment, on behalf of the city and its partners, and the creation of a Downtown Kitchener Action Plan.
The modern incarnation of its historic farmers’ market, opened in 2004. The Kitchener Market is one of the oldest consistently operating markets in Canada. The Kitchener Market features local producers, international cuisine, artisans, and craftspeople.
In 2009, the City of Kitchener began a project to reconstruct and revitalise the main street in Kitchener's downtown core, King Street. In the reconstruction of King Street, several features were added to make the street more friendly to pedestrians. New lighting was added to the street, sidewalks were widened, and curbs were lowered. Movable bollards were installed to add flexibility to the street-scape, accommodating main street events and festivals. In 2010, the redesigned King Street was awarded the International Community Places Award for its flexible design intended to draw people into the downtown core. In 2009, Tree Canada recognised King Street as a green street. The redesigned King Street features several environmentally sustainable elements such as new street trees, bike racks, planter beds that collect and filter storm water, street furnishing made primarily from recycled materials, and an improved waste management system. The street was reconstructed using recycled roadway and paving stones. In September 2012, the City of Toronto government used Kitchener's King Street as a model for Celebrate Yonge – a month-long event which reduced Yonge Street to two lanes, widening sidewalks to improve the commercial street for businesses and pedestrians.
The University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy and downtown health sciences campus opened in spring 2009. The building is on King Street near Victoria Street, on the site of the old Epton plant, across the street from the Kaufman Lofts (formerly the Kaufman shoe factory). McMaster University later opened a satellite campus for its Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine next to the University of Waterloo's School of Pharmacy. The Health Sciences Campus has been central to the emergence of Kitchener's health science cluster.
In 2007, Cadan Inc., a Toronto-based real estate development company, bought what had been the Lang Tannery for $10 million. Supported by the local government, Cadan repurposed the building for use by commercial firms. Since its refurbishment, the Tannery has become a hub for digital media companies, both large and small. Desire2Learn, an e-learning company, in the Tannery as the company expanded. In 2011, Communitech moved into the Tannery. Home to over 800 companies, Communitech is a hub for innovative high-tech companies in the fields of information technology, digital media, biomedical, aerospace, environmental technology and advanced manufacturing. Also in 2011, high-tech giant Google Inc. became a tenant of the Tannery, furthering its reputation as a home for leading high-tech companies. The Kitchener office is a large hub for the development for Google's Gmail application. In 2016, the University of Waterloo-sponsored startup hub Velocity Garage relocated to the building, bringing over 100 additional startup companies into the Tannery.
The Province of Ontario built a new provincial courthouse in downtown Kitchener, on the block bordered by Frederick, Duke, Scott and Weber streets. The new courthouse was expected to create new jobs, mainly for the courthouse, but also for other businesses, especially law offices. The new courthouse construction began in 2010.
In the downtown area, several factories have been transformed into upscale lofts and residences. In September 2010, construction began on the ‘City Centre’ redevelopment project in downtown Kitchener. This redevelopment project will include condominium units, new retail spaces, private and public parking, a gallery, and a boutique hotel. The former Arrow shirt factory has been converted into a luxury, high-rise apartment building, featuring loft condominiums.
In 2012, Desire2Learn, in downtown Kitchener, received $80 million in venture capitalist funding from OMERS Ventures and New Enterprise Associates.
The downtown area was in a boom phase by late 2017, with $1.2 billion in building permits for 20 new developments expected by the end of February 2019. That would add 1,000 apartments and 1,800 condominium units. The City indicated that the development would be a "mixture of high-density residential buildings with ground-floor retail, and office buildings with ground-floor retail". Since the Ion rapid transit (light rail) system, operated by Grand River Transit, was approved in 2009, "the region has issued $2.4 billion in building permits within the LRT corridor".
Kitchener was ranked #1115 by the Nomad List which evaluates and ranks remote work hubs by cost, internet, fun and safety. Kitchener has a population of over 233,222 people. Kitchener also forms part of the wider Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo metropolitan area which has a population of over 554,000 people. Kitchener is the #278 hipster city in the world, with a hipster score of 2.8705 according to the Hipster Index which evaluates and ranks the major cities of the world according to the number of vegan eateries, coffee shops, tattoo studios, vintage boutiques, and record stores per 100,000 city residents.