The Kitchener Waterloo Region has always been a centre for craftsmanship and entrepreneurialism. Beginning with German Mennonite farmers who built the first farms in the region in the early 1800s, the area continued to attract skilled craftsmen, artisans and tradesmen for decades to come. The presence of the Grand and Conestoga Rivers made the area an attractive place for building the first grist mill in 1808, followed by saw mills and textile mills. The extension of the Grand Trunk Railway through Kitchener in 1856, known as Berlin at the time, helped accelerate development in the area, strengthening its industrial and manufacturing identity.
The region has long attracted talented entrepreneurs and craftspeople seeking to build their businesses, perfect their craft and their trades. With the founding of the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University in the 1950’s, the region became a place known for a new kind of manufacturing in emerging software and technology, attracting some of the best minds in the country, as well as some of the most prominent high-tech businesses in the world.