Illustration: Alex Mathers

Location, location, location. Where you place your business has a big impact on whether it survives and thrives. And with a country full of bustling cities and booming towns, there are lots of amazing spots that could sustain and support your new venture, outlet or office.

So how do you choose? For the first annual study of Canada’s Best Places for Business, we surveyed 50 of the country’s largest municipalities to find the ones with burgeoning markets, the lowest costs and the most amenable tax and regulatory regimes. Want an idea of where to set up your next store or office, or to compare your hometown to others? Look no further than our rankings, and the soon-to-be released exhaustive directory of municipalities.

Here are Canada’s Top 10 Best Places for Business in 2015, plus the top reason each municipality identified to locate in their community:

1. Milton, Ontario

“Milton is the fastest growing community in Canada and has evolved into one of the most educated and vibrant places that has something for everyone.”

2. Calgary, Alberta

“Our energy. In every endeavour we are risk-takers and visionaries. Our perspective is global and our Western values run deep.”

3. Winnipeg, Manitoba

“Winnipeg has the lowest business costs in Western Canada—and lower than every U.S. city examined.”

4. Burlington, Ontario

“Burlington is rated the best medium-sized city in Canada to live in by MoneySense. Why not work in the best place to live?”

5. Whitby, Ontario

“Whitby is committed to enhancing and developing its infrastructure, facilities and services to promote sustainable economic growth.”

6. Strathcona County, Alberta

“An excellent business community with a leading- edge Chamber of Commerce, integrated with a strong economy with a solid tax base!”

7. Oakville, Ontario

“Oakville’s livability has consistently made this community the location of choice for companies from around the world.”

8. Ajax, Ontario

“In Ajax, you get more—an affordable home for your business, only 20 mins from Toronto, all within a day’s drive of over 120 million customers.”

9. Brampton, Ontario

“Brampton’s fast growing people-powered economy is strategically located with diverse businesses and a young and multicultural workforce.”

10. Grande Prairie, Alberta

“Grande Prairie is located in a Regional Trading Area with more than 260,000 people.”

The Canadian Business Best Places for Business relies on a mix of self-reported data from the municipal governments and independent demographic and market data. Weighting is as follows: 40% market indicators [population (higher is better), population growth (higher is better), population within a one-hour driving distance (higher is better), median household income (higher is better), percentage of residents with apprenticeship or trade certificate (higher is better), percentage of residents with a university degree (higher is better), unemployment rate (lower is better), participation in the labour force (higher is better)]; 30% governmental indicators [business license cost (lower is better), building permit processing time (lower is better), business property tax rate (lower is better), business income tax rate (lower is better), small business income tax rate where different (lower is better)]; and 30% cost indicators [average home price (lower is better), total building permits issued in the last year (higher is better), average time to buy a home (lower is better), average office lease rate (lower is better), average commercial lease rate (lower is better), average price of industrial land (lower is better)].

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