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February 24, 2000
Toronto - North America's Best Positioned City to Compete Internationally
  
Economic Development - Mayor Lastman today released a report assessing the
competitive position of the City's major business clusters. "This is the first
study of its kind completed in Canada," Councillor Brian Ashton, Chair of the
City's Economic Development and Parks Committee said enthusiastically . "This
independent review confirms Toronto is a great place for business and economic
growth in the 21st century."

Toronto Competes: An Assessment of Toronto's Global Competitiveness was
initiated by the City's Economic Development Office in partnership with City
Planning and support from the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and
Trade - Office for Urban Economic Development. Ian Bromley, the Province of
Ontario Special Advisor for Urban Economic Development, emphasized that he was
"pleased to support the City on this initiative and recognized that a more
competitive Toronto makes a more competitive Ontario."

"It's clear that Toronto is ground zero for Canada's transition to a globally
competitive, knowledge-based economy," Councillor Ashton commented. In
previous recessions most local economies declined and then rebounded in much
the same form. During the 1990s, the Toronto economy went through a profound
transformation - a caterpillar to butterfly metamorphosis. Toronto businesses
have switched from routine, mass-production manufacturing for protected
Canadian markets to become highly innovative, flexible, design conscious
international competitors. "There is no going back to the old economy. It
great to know that there really is a silver lining to that economic raincloud
that engulfed the city during the first half of the 1990s," Councillor Ashton
commented.

ICF Consulting, a California-based firm specializing in economic strategies,
led the international team of consultants responsible for the study. Dr. Ted
Egan, Project Manager for ICF, referred to Toronto as a "marquee city" and said
he was "excited about the assignment from the very beginning." The
consultant's assessment suggests that Toronto may be the best positioned city
in North America heading into the 21st century, only - in typically Canadian
fashion - we never knew it. Unlike many cities whose economic fortunes are
tied to one or two industries, the Toronto region has a broad array of
successful manufacturing and services clusters. And in most of those clusters,
the Toronto region outperforms the North American average in terms of job
growth.

The report notes that today, more than ever, the economic competitiveness of a
city determines the quality of life its residents enjoy. And, in turn, the
quality of life a city offers - its community facilities, schools, parks,
theatres, museums, and other community assets - is a key factor to its economic
competitiveness.

The report, however, cautions that while Toronto is extremely well positioned
for success, economic prosperity in not a given. Toronto must address the
global challenge of increased competition from other international cities, and
the unique local challenges associated with being the most highly urbanized
area within the GTA.

Toronto needs additional public investment, private investment, and
public-private partnership investment to strengthen the economic foundations -
human resources, research and development, finance, infrastructure, business
climate, and quality of life. These foundations are critical for
competitiveness today. Toronto's great advantage is that it has an admirably
strong base of education, research and cultural institutions on which to
build. Creating a 'Vital Cycle' of economic growth and improved quality of
life requires strong partnerships between these institutions, business, labour,
and communities.

Toronto Competes recognizes the vitality of the City's neighbourhoods, its
diverse population, rich arts and culture spirit, and core of knowledge-based
institutions (universities, colleges, research centres) as key resources that
contribute to the quality of life of the community and are essential to
economic competitiveness. The report also recognizes the economic
interdependence between the City and the GTA as a relationship that will never
be superceded. To achieve the region's full potential all levels and sizes of
government, business, labour, educational institutions must develop effective
partnerships. Toronto Competes provides strong direction for the City's
evolving Economic Development Strategy and Official Plan.


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