The clear winner of fdi’s competition to find the Canadian City of the Future is Toronto, which came first in four of the seven judging categories. Its region of Ontario, which came first in six categories, wins the title of Canadian Province of the Future.
Canadian City of the Future: Greater Toronto
With a population of five million people, the Greater Toronto Area is Canada’s largest and most diverse consumer and commercial/industrial marketplace. What makes it a powerhouse has much to do with its location. It is the fifth largest urban region in the US and Canada, and is within a one-day drive of 125 million Americans – more than 40% of the US population.
The real GDP for Toronto’s metropolitan area was C$189.24m ($149.86m) in 2003. It is estimated that its GDP has increased by 5.3% in 2004, to C$200.18m, according to the Autumn 2004 edition of the Conference Board’s Metropolitan Outlook, from the Conference Board of Canada. That is the highest GDP among metropolitan areas in Canada. The forecast for 2005 is C$208.13m, up 4%.
Toronto is a manufacturing hub with major companies working in the automotive, aerospace, biomedical, computers/electronics and plastics fields. The Greater Toronto Area has a skilled workforce of more than two million, more than any other Canadian region.
A clean and modern city, Toronto lies on the shores of Lake Ontario, the easternmost of the Great Lakes. It is well located for operations with a worldwide focus. It is an hour and a half by air to the US cities of New York, Philadelphia, Hartford, Boston and Chicago, and direct flights are available to most major cities of the world.
The city is in the eastern time zone, which allows convenient communications with key people in the eastern seaboard of North America, while providing excellent windows of communication to European centres.
The multi-cultural nature of the city (over 100 ethnic groups) provides international companies with a large pool of the language skills necessary to operate in international markets.
Canadian Province of the Future: Ontario
Ontario, which encompasses a land mass of 917,741 square kilometres, is often considered one of the economic powerhouses of Canada. For the most part, the population of nearly 12.4 million people lives in a host of small towns. The largest concentration of the population – nearly 5.2 million – lives in the Toronto area.
Bordering the province of Quebec and four of the Great Lakes, Ontario is close to the north-eastern and mid-western US. This proximity means that it offers similar strategic business advantages: an affluent local customer base, a skilled workforce and an excellent quality of life.
Toronto, Ontario’s largest city, is a day’s truck journey away from the most prosperous US markets, making it an excellent location for business. This is important because Ontario is home to 14 assembly plants operated by seven of the world’s largest vehicle manufacturers.
About 44% of the US population is within reach, accounting for 47% of US GDP and 48% of US personal income. More than 400 million North American consumers are accessible from Ontario. Strategically located in the middle of the continent, the province is a natural distribution centre for important markets in Canada, the US and Mexico. The overall cost of doing business in Ontario is lower than in the US, so it is not surprising that so many multinational corporations have established large operations there.
Ontario’s ethnic diversity is attractive. The skilled workforce has experience in international business practices. A major part of why Ontario is an appealing place to live and work is its multiculturalism. The United Nations calls Toronto, Ontario’s capital, the most ethnically diverse city in the world. It is home to more than 80 ethnic groups speaking 100 languages.
The province has four distinct seasons, boasts 280 provincial parks, 25,000 square miles of protected wilderness and more than 600 golf courses.