MARKHAM, ON, May 7 /CNW/ - The Greater Toronto Region Economic Summit,
held today at Seneca College in Markham, produced an array of proposals that
will guide the development of a strategic action plan for the region's
Over 250 representatives from Toronto's business, labour, academic and
institutional communities began working on an action plan that will stimulate
the Greater Toronto region's economy over the next six to 18 months.
"This has been a very productive day," says Mayor Hazel McCallion. "This
region is the economic engine of Canada, but we all agree that we have not
been firing on all cylinders. Lots of useful ideas came to the fore today that
will impact the Summit's final report of recommendations later this month."
The Summit culminated in three key themes and some top-line ideas:
URGENCY: There is a critical need for action. Processes need to be
streamlined so that available funds flow more quickly and smoothly.
INTEGRATION & INNOVATION: Better coordination is needed between all
levels of government, public and private sectors, across the entire region.
Specific investment is essential for key sectors, but governments must be
selective and champion fewer, more targeted sectors/clusters.
MARKETING: The region needs to better promote itself internationally.
Locally, organizations need better access to existing incentive programs and
Sessions were separated into four key discussion areas in which delegates
produced a list of actionable ideas and proposals, including:
- Leveraging our financial services sector:
- Market the region as a global financial services centre;
- Tax incentives to support desired outcomes and behaviours, such
as: building the green technology sector and creating a Canadian
capital gains tax credit.
- Restructuring our manufacturing base:
- Remove red tape and create a single window for manufacturers to
access government resources;
- Create programs that bring together the design community and the
manufacturing industry to foster innovation;
- Allow Business Development Canada to make higher risk investments
in small businesses (including micro-financing).
- Investing in our human capital:
- Develop a Greater Toronto Region talent strategy;
- Focus funding and tax incentives to support internships,
apprenticeships and students at all levels;
- Building capacity for skilled workers through fast-track foreign
credentials recognition and better skills assessment.
- Promoting research, innovation, and creativity:
- Increase capital for innovative ventures;
- Link academic and business communities to spur demand-driven, more
- Identify key sectors/clusters and target investments there to
The delegates' input was collected and collated by the consulting firm
Oliver Wyman and presented at the conclusion of the Summit by Ian Smith of
Oliver Wyman. The Summit's co-chairs will now review the proposals and produce
a final report later this month.
"There was a sense of optimism in the breakout sessions," said Summit
co-chair John Honderich, Chair of Torstar Corporation. "But there was also a
strong sense of urgency to the deliberations. There is no shortage of ideas to
act upon. The next step is to shape them into a plan."
All three levels of government participated in the landmark event and
addresses were heard from:
- Honourable Jim Flaherty, Finance Minister and Minister responsible
for the GTA;
- Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty;
- Economic Development Minister Michael Bryant;
- Burlington MP and GTA caucus chair, Mike Wallace;
- Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti;
- Toronto Mayor David Miller.
The Summit is being funded by delegate fees and sponsorship assistance
from the Government of Ontario, Invest Toronto/City of Toronto, RBC Financial
Group, Residential and Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario (RCCAO), Toronto
Board of Trade, The Carpenters' Union, Oliver Wyman, Seneca College, NANOS
Research, Dots (Data on the Spot), Vineland Estates Winery. For more
information on the summit, go to www.gtreconomicsummit.com.
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