WINNIPEG tops the list as the most cost-competitive city out of 25 western Canadian and Midwest U.S. cities, according to a comprehensive annual study by KPMG.
The Competitive Alternatives report examines 26 key business cost elements, including labour, taxes, real estate and utilities.
Winnipeg came out ahead in the region where Chicago, Denver and Minneapolis were the most expensive.
Austin Abas, managing partner of the KPMG Winnipeg office, said having the best cost-competitiveness rating in the region is a plus for Winnipeg.
"Absolutely it's an advantage for the city," he said. "On the manufacturing side, that's why you see aerospace as strong as it is and back-office operations for companies like Investors Group and Great-West Life are very affordable. That's what makes it that strong."
The survey also serves as a tool the province and Economic Development Winnipeg can use to measure various performance metrics against other cities.
"In one fell swoop, it's a competitive analysis model we can pick and choose from to show how we compete across the industry sectors identified," said EDW's Greg Dandewich.
Cost-competitiveness is not the only determinant companies look at when deciding where to invest, Dandewich said, but it's one of many, including the level of productivity, access to markets, education levels and availability of skilled workers.
"It acts as a nice touchstone," he said. "At least it puts your community out there because you are showing there is some competitiveness with respect to that key determinant in the decision-making process."
The index scores show Winnipeg has a slight cost advantage over Sioux Falls, S.D., and Cheyenne, Wyo.
Winnipeg had an index score of 94.8 (100 is the baseline average using the average scores of the four largest U.S. metro areas -- New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and Dallas-Fort Worth).
In comparison, Saskatoon scored 95.2, Edmonton 96 and Calgary 97.3.
Moncton, N.B., was named the most cost-competitive city in Canada, with a score of 92.3.
As for the country's largest cities, Winnipeg was ranked eighth out of the 16 assessed, Montreal seventh, Toronto 12th, Vancouver 14th and Calgary 16th.
Eastern Canada dominated the top spots, with Fredericton ranked second, Halifax third, Trois-Rivières, Que., fourth and Charlottetown fifth.
By country, Canada was ranked third among nine "mature" markets, with a five per cent cost advantage over the United States, which was sixth. The United Kingdom was ranked the most cost-competitive mature-market country and the Netherlands second, while Japan took the ninth and last spot.