Report Analyses Toronto's Economic Riddle, and Links to Answers

    
                       TORONTO BOARD OF TRADE RELEASES
         TORONTO AS A GLOBAL CITY: 2ND ANNUAL SCORECARD ON PROSPERITY

                    Toronto Sits in Fourth Place Overall;
                   Rises to No. 2 in Labour Attractiveness;
             Remains Stuck in the Middle on Economic Performance
    

TORONTO, March 29 /CNW/ - The Toronto Board of Trade today released Toronto as a Global City: Scorecard on Prosperity 2010, its second annual benchmarking study of social and economic indicators across global city regions. The goal of the Scorecard is to measure Toronto's strengths and weaknesses as a major urban centre competing in the global economy.

The Scorecard's release occurs during VoteToronto2010.com, the Board of Trade's campaign to lead civic engagement and the issues that matter to this city and its voters. "This year's Scorecard is particularly important in this election year, as it will serve as the starting point from which the next administration's economic and social endeavours will be measured," says Carol Wilding, President, Toronto Board of Trade.

A RIDDLE IN NEED OF A SOLUTION

Overall, Toronto has made great strides in improving its liveability and is a major magnet for talent: it ranked second only to Barcelona in labour attractiveness (compared to 5th place in 2009). However, our economic performance remains mediocre, making a slight improvement to finish 11th of 24 cities in the economy (compared to 9th of 21 cities last year).

These findings present a perplexing riddle: if Toronto is such a magnet for people, why does Toronto struggle to succeed economically - especially on the fundamental markers of an innovative and productive economy?

"This fundamental gap between our labour attractiveness and economic performance is seriously troubling and threatens our liveability," says Ms. Wilding. "A high quality of life comes at a price and that price can only be paid through Torontonians' incomes. If we cannot raise our performance in the economic domain, our labour attractiveness will suffer."

THE CAPITAL LENS: TORONTO'S ACHILLES HEEL

The Scorecard's new "Capital Lens" helps identify one of the root causes of our poor economic performance: insufficient venture capital in the region's economy is choking innovation and productivity growth.

The "Capital Lens" is a measure of a metropolitan area's capacity to attract venture capital. It combines eight of the Economy domain indicators most closely linked to capital attractiveness (including productivity, venture capital and office rents). This is where Toronto shows its worst results: it posts a "C" or "D" grade on five of the capital lens indicators, taking 19th place with a "D" grade. Despite Toronto's relative affordability as a place to do business, it falls short when it comes to attracting significant capital investment.

TORONTO AND SURROUNDING MUNICIPALITIES

The region's core weathered the recession relatively better than its surrounding area. Compared to last year's Scorecard, the city centre's performance improved relative to the surrounding municipalities in each of its five major weak spots (income growth, GDP growth, employment growth, unemployment rate, total tax rate). In some instances, however, these relative gains came at the expense of absolute declines due to the global recession in 2008-09. No part of the region fared well on key measures such as productivity growth and per capita income.

TRANSIT AND CONGESTION

Another serious roadblock to the region's prosperity is congestion in the Toronto area. The Scorecard's benchmarking work indicates that roughly 70 per cent of Torontonians drive to work and that Toronto is dead last among comparable metros on commuting times - with longer commutes than Los Angeles.

The OECD estimates that traffic congestion in the Toronto region costs Canada over $5 billion per year, pointing the finger at urban sprawl and decades of underinvestment in public transit. The resulting congestion threatens Toronto's viability over the long-term and serves as an argument for increased investment in public transit and policies that encourage Torontonians to leave their cars behind.

A CALL TO ACTION ON JOBS, INVESTMENT AND INNOVATION

"Despite our highly diverse, educated labour force and our reputation as one of the most liveable cities in the world, Toronto must strive to strengthen its economic foundation - particularly in areas related to productivity, innovation and access to capital," says Ms. Wilding. "This is crucial if we are to make the transition from world class to world leader."

The Scorecard on Prosperity 2010 was created with the research support of the Conference Board of Canada and sponsored by the Certified Management Accountants of Ontario. This year's Scorecard has been expanded to include nine additional indicators and four new cities, comparing the Toronto region to 23 other global city-regions across a total of 34 indicators. It also includes a new analysis of Toronto's relative performance for venture capital investment, called the "Capital Lens".

About the Toronto Board of Trade (www.bot.com)

Founded in 1845, the Toronto Board of Trade is Canada's largest local chamber of commerce, connecting more than 200,000 business professionals and influencers throughout the Toronto region. The Board of Trade fuels the economic, social and cultural vitality of the entire Toronto region by fostering powerful collaborations among business, government, thought leaders and community builders. The Board of Trade plays a vital role in elevating the quality of life and global competitiveness of Canada's largest urban centre.

SOURCE TORONTO BOARD OF TRADE

For further information: For further information: Dorenda McNeil, Counsel Public Relations, Tel: (416) 961-5898 x 216, Email: dmcneil@counselpr.ca

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