One of the biggest names in the Canadian tech world is making a big bet on Waterloo.

Shopify, which currently operates out of the former Seagrams distillery at Erb and Caroline streets, plans to expand to a building on Willis Way by early 2018.

Over the next two to three years, it plans to hire as many as 500 new employees for its local operation.

Shopify’s Waterloo operation is focused on Shopify Plus, its platform for large online retailers. Its presence in the city began in 2015.

“We anticipated fast growth, but we’ve actually outpaced our own expectations,” says Loren Padelford, the vice-president and general manager of Shopify Plus.

Vanessa Buttinger, who grew up in Waterloo Region and has worked at Shopify since 2016, says she’s excited about the company’s growth plans and has already heard from friends asking how they can get involved.

“It’s going to be really exciting to see how much more action and excitement there is,” she says.

Art Sinclair of the Greater Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber of Commerce says seeing a company as big as Shopify decide to stay in Waterloo for its expansion is a positive sign for the local economy.

“There’s an available talent pool right here. They know they’re going to be able to get the people to work for them,” he says.

Padelford says the company will be looking for people in roles ranging from engineering to product management to sales and marketing.

With reporting by Tyler Calver