By Alastair Sharp
TORONTO (Reuters) - Cisco Systems Inc will expand its research and development operations in Ontario, looking to add 1,700 jobs in the Canadian province over the next six years, the U.S. network equipment maker said on Friday.
Cisco and the Ontario provincial government said they have signed a 10-year agreement that will see the province provide up to C$220 million ($207 million) to support the company's expansion.
They did not specify what form the support would take, but said the agreement could expand Cisco's Ontario payroll to as many as 5,000 jobs. Cisco said it now has about 1,300 staff in the province.
The company and the government said the potential total investment could be as much as C$4 billion, including C$2.2 billion in salaries over the next decade.
Ontario, the country's most populous province, has long been Canada's manufacturing hub and home to many of its top technology companies.
Ontario manufacturers were hit hard by the financial crisis and Ontario's highest-profile technology company, Waterloo-based BlackBerry Ltd, has shed vast numbers of employees in recent years as its smartphones have lost market share.
Cisco is not the only global technology company to announce an expansion of its Ontario operations recently.
Google Inc's Motorola Mobility unit said in September it planned to set up a new hub in Waterloo, partly to take advantage of local engineering talent.
(Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson; and Peter Galloway)