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Where to Set Up First Office in Canada or U.S. (for NA Business Expansion)

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F. Reichwein

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Dec 15, 2019
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Hi everyone,

I have a question about what a good place might be to set up the first North American office of a German company wishing to further its development into Canada and the U.S.

As context:

I am Canadian but have been working in Europe for many years. I have recently been approached by this company wishing to offer me an important business development/management position that quite interests me. I am now being invited to a second interview. The company is into tailoring "Internet of Things" systems for creating next-gen smart buildings: hospitals, schools, skyscrapers, etc. It is pretty well-established, with patents and proven concepts, and has concluded deals with clients accross the world already, but so far, it has only operated out of its German offices and factories, with sales managers going on international prospection/business trips wherever personal meetings were necessary. The company now wishes to set up a permanent HQ office/team in North America.

As preparation for the second interview, I am being asked, among other questions:
"Where on the East Coast or in the Great Lakes region would I set up an office and why?"

Sure I could just wing it - pick any city/town and make a case that it's wonderful for business - but honestly, I admit that I am at a bit of a loss for a good choice of a place. They did tell me there is no need to set up anything in the heart of a big city and that everything would certainly be gradual: first, work from an apartment while a team is being recruited/assembled, then set up a small office, then oversee the construction of more facilities, etc.

Somewhere that makes is equally easy to dispatch someone to New York, Philadelphia, Toronto, Montreal or anywhere in-between, I suppose... (that's the initial area being targeted for new clients). In the Western part of New York State perhaps? Or a countryside-ish area somewhere near Toronto? The plan is indeed to engage into business activities in both Canada and the States. Are there matters of taxation or law or business paperwork that make one or the other country more convenient? Again, I am Canadian, but I would not think that work permit and such would be any issue in the context of a company setting up base in the US... or is Canada indeed easier here?

Thanks and regards,

Florian
 

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AgainstAllOdds

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New York City.

As close to Manhattan as economically feasible.

That's where the money is. That's where you should be. Especially if that's the market they want to target. Getting on a plane and flying in is 10x less effective than being there in person and capturing every opportunity you can.
 

F. Reichwein

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Dec 15, 2019
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New York City.

As close to Manhattan as economically feasible.

That's where the money is. That's where you should be. Especially if that's the market they want to target. Getting on a plane and flying in is 10x less effective than being there in person and capturing every opportunity you can.

That does make much sense, I admit. Thanks!
In the end, this could likely turn into a negotiation sort of thing, where I might have to justify a quality location that's more expensive than they hope, with arguments (along the lines of what you wrote) that outweigh a high rent and such.
 

Azure

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Taxation is a matter best left for your accounting team.

In terms of location, there is really only one viable option in Canada - and that's Toronto. Montreal adds further complications with the French requirements, and less than hospitable bureaucracy to anyone who is not Quebecois.

It's rather unclear what you are looking to do though, are you expanding international sales, looking to manufacture here, provide a retail presence?
 

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