Jerry and Katherine Hanna searched more than a decade for a place to build a second home away from the freezing cold of their Edmonton, Alberta, suburb.
They considered Florida, “but when we were there, they got hit with Hurricane Charley,” Jerry said. In addition, it took several flights to get there. They considered an oceanfront home in Mexico, but they would have to lease the property, unless they moved inland. Palm Springs was “beautiful and perfect,” they thought, but it lacked the amenities they sought.
And it went on like that, until they focused on Arizona.
“We could still have all of the palm trees, the Mediterranean style of a small community, which we really like because we didn’t like a big city, and we were close enough to many amenities for sports, shopping and health,” he said.
In 2011, they settled on a four-bedroom home on one-third of an acre in a golf course community in Goodyear. Sherwood Park, their Alberta suburb, is only a three-hour flight away.
The Hannas own Clearflow Enviro Systems, a manufacturer of environment-friendly products for water treatment and soil-erosion control.
Now, Jerry Hanna wants to open an office in the United States to distribute his products. His preferred location? Goodyear.
“The manufacturing is done in Sherwood Park right now. If it became worthwhile enough, I would move manufacturing to the States to handle all of the U.S. market,” he said.
The Valley’s weather has long been the main draw for Canadians, as the first visitors came seeking relief from respiratory ailments or arthritic conditions. Lured by the natural wonders of Arizona, hordes of tourists followed.
In 2013, nearly 900,000 Canadians visited Arizona, and this year, 1 million are expected, according to the Phoenix-based Canada Arizona Business Council, a private-sector group that facilitates trade, investment and tourism on both sides of the border.
In the past decade or so, more and more Canadians moved here and opened up businesses or relocated their business headquarters. Recognizing the trend, Valley cities are starting to recruit their Canadian dollars.
“Canadians and Canadian capital continue to pour into the state and this is something that is going on, has been going on and will continue to go on,” said R. Glenn Williamson, founder and CEO of the Canada Arizona Business Council.
More than 300 Canadian companies operate in Arizona, among them BMO Harris Bank, Bombardier, Mattamy Homes and Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. In addition, former U.S. owned businesses such as Circle K, which has its origins in Phoenix, Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus are now Canadian owned.
About 150 Arizona companies operate north of the border.
Williamson said that while many Canadian companies and investors came down during the recessions of the past three decades, most came during the most recent one.
“Decision-makers in their 30s and 40s are buying extraordinarily beautiful homes down here and then they are moving their offices not just from Canada through expansions, but they’re making decisions to move their offices from the other 49 states,” he said.
Nearly one-third of the 1.2 million residential properties in Maricopa County are owned by snowbirds or investors. Of those, 22,000 are owned by Canadians, according to the Maricopa Association of Governments. The number of residences annually purchased by Canadians more than doubled from 2009-2011, at the height of the housing bust, according to MAG.
© AZ Central