On Tuesday, December 9, 2014, Mayor Crombie was invited to speak to over 250 people at the Mississauga Board of Trade (MBOT) Annual General Meeting. Below are her remarks.
Address by Mayor Bonnie Crombie
Mississauga Board of Trade Annual General Meeting
December 9, 2014
*Check against delivery*
Thank you for inviting me to join you for your 2014 Annual General Meeting and for allowing the opportunity to speak.
I’d like to recognize Sheldon Leiba for his leadership of MBOT and for advancing the interests of Mississauga’s businesses and promoting our City on the national and international stage
I’d also like to thank Paul Woolford for his work as the Chair of MBOT and welcome Jeffrey Percival as the new Chair of the board of directors.
I’m pleased that a former MBOT Chair, Karen Ras has joined us on City Council. She will be a strong advocate for local business and a bring a fresh perspective to our discussions. I would also like to recognize Ward 3 Councillor, Chris Fonseca who is with us this morning. Chris is a tireless advocate for her residents and for the local business community and is a strong voice on Council.
The health of a City is measured in part by the strength of its businesses and the depth of its economic base
I am proud to say that Mississauga is in a strong position because of each of you here today, the efforts of MBOT, as well as the almost 60,000 businesses that call our City home.
I was elected on a platform that will move Mississauga forward…it was based in large part on strong partnerships with our business community…
You have my commitment that you will always have a partner and a champion in the Mayor’s Office.
Mississauga is a relatively young city at just 40 years old, but we are a thriving city with great potential.
We are home to over 750,000 residents that speak over 70 languages and come from over 150 countries
Mississauga is home to talented residents that have above average education and skills – in fact, over two-thirds of our adults have post-secondary education.
You may not realize this, but the GO Bus terminal at Square One is the second busiest GO Terminal with over 550 GO Bus trips coming and going from downtown Mississauga every day. Our downtown core is fast becoming a hub for transit
We are home to Toronto Pearson, a global hub of travel and a gateway for international trade that is expected to double its passenger numbers over the next 15 years
Our City boasts that we have 63 Fortune 500 companies and as I have said, almost 60,000 businesses, employing more than 400,000 people. As a result, we have become a net importer of jobs and are now a destination for employment in the GTA.
We now have a GDP that exceeds $40 billion annually and have become an economic engine in Ontario.
And, I am proud this year to say that our office and commercial development is outpacing our residential development signalling that we have a healthy job market with an appetite to grow further beyond the 26 million square feet of office space we currently have.
None of this happened by accident, but was the result of a coordinated economic development strategy that involved our City, our residents, and most importantly, the Mississauga business community through MBOT.
Hazel McCallion made economic development and our local businesses a priority and I commit to you that as your mayor, I will continue this approach.
To continue to succeed, we must first and foremost get the fundamentals right.
These include investing in transit and transportation networks to reduce congestion; maintaining a thriving local economy by working closely with our business community and by focusing our efforts on attracting domestic and international investment; fostering a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship to ensure our best and brightest develop their ideas in Mississauga; and maintaining strong civic leadership that understands the needs of businesses and the necessity of cultivating a business-friendly environment.
One of our top priorities must be to relieve gridlock and congestion through investments in regionally-integrated rapid transit. Every day our roads become more crowded, resulting in lost productivity – some estimate more than $6 billion per year, which has a direct impact on our collective bottom line.
Our strategic advantage in Mississauga has been tied to our ability to move goods and people seamlessly across the GTA and to our borders, but this is quickly become more difficult to do. We are at risk of losing investment opportunities simply because we cannot move.
We need to get people out of their cars wherever possible by providing them with viable commuting options.
We have taken a significant step forward by opening the first phase of the Mississauga Bus Rapid Transitway and I am confident that we will soon begin construction on the Hurontario Light Rail Transit or ‘LRT’ to build the north-south spine of a regionally-integrated rapid transit network.
We have done our homework; we have a strong business case; and we are ready to get shovels in the ground on the LRT…at the same time we will continue to advocate for all-day, two-way GO Train service that will enhance our connections to other cities in the GTA. To do this, we will work with our federal and provincial representatives to find the necessary funding.
We are 25 years behind where we should be on transit. The time for talk is over…now is the time for action.
We must begin building a regionally-connected transit network that allows our residents to move seamlessly across the GTA and our businesses to attract the best talent, whether they live here in Mississauga or beyond.
Building a regionally-integrated rapid transit network is essential to our growth and development as a city and to maintaining a high quality of life.
And, as Mayor McCallion used to say, Mississauga enjoys a quality of life that is ‘second to none!’ This has been a significant factor in attracting and retaining business in Mississauga and we must ensure that we continue to develop in a way that is attractive to new residents and new employees.
We must encourages the development of livable, walkable and healthy communities where people can walk or use transit to get where they need to go; where housing is affordable and accessible; where taxes are low; and where there are opportunities to live and work in the same community.
Our Downtown21 plan is focused on creating a vibrant downtown that is a destination for residents. We have also begun work on Inspiration Port Credit and Inspiration Lakeview, plans that will shape the future development of one of our most valued assets – our pristine waterfront.
Along with the development of our waterfront and our downtown, we are also consciously investing in public spaces. Celebration Square is an excellent example of such a space – I think we got it right!
This year we welcomed our two millionth visitor to the Square and will use this space as an example when we plan future public spaces.
Amenities like these are critical to creating a vibrant city and as we know, the most successful global cities are also the most vibrant. It’s no coincidence.
If people want to live here, they will also want to invest here.
A vibrant city is built on a strong economic base, where local residents can live and work in their own community, where domestic and international businesses are supported, and where innovators and entrepreneurs have the freedom and the support needed to thrive and succeed…
Our economic development strategy must be focused on attracting, retaining and encouraging business on all levels.
Economic Development requires a champion and as your Mayor, I will lead our economic development efforts and champion our City at every opportunity.
Mississauga has attracted over 1,400 multi-national companies and we must continue to position ourselves as a “Global Business Magnet.”
It is critical that we seize upon every investment opportunity, position ourselves to compete effectively in the global market place, and create employment opportunities for all residents.
As Mayor McCallion did for many years with great success, I will continue to go on trade missions to targeted countries in an effort to bring business back to Mississauga.
In fact, in the last week I have been approached about trade missions to Pakistan and Poland.
To ensure we are maximizing our efforts, I will work with local business and trade organizations, MBOT, as well as our many cultural associations to create an International Investment Advisory Panel, which will be supported directly by the Mayor’s Office and our City’s Economic Development Office.
I want to bring together industry leaders from across our City who represent areas around the Globe and to determine our international targets and who we need to meet with to begin the important discussions on investing in Mississauga.
I hope that some of you will consider serving on this panel and providing your input.
Mississauga’s is uniquely positioned to access markets other cities can only dream about because of our great diversity and highly-skilled work force. We must continue to capitalize on this strength and use it to our advantage.
We will also continue to play a leading role in the Greater Toronto Marketing Alliance to target global markets and focus on our growth sectors, such as advanced manufacturing, life sciences, and information and communications technology (ICT).
While looking abroad to attract investment, we must always ensure that the needs of our local businesses are met…I believe we can and we must do more to meet the needs of our almost 60,000 businesses.
“Open for Business” can’t just be a slogan, it means that we must support not only our largest business partners, but also small and medium-sized companies.
For the City of Mississauga this means that businesses across all sectors have the necessary resources that enable them to start, thrive and contribute to the local economy and that investment attraction is balanced with the need for business retention and expansion opportunities.
Our Economic Development Office is implementing a pilot Business Retention and Expansion Program in 2015 that will focus on our key sectors.
We need to ensure that our existing business community is aware that we appreciate their investment and that staff are available to support their growth through a number of resources available in our community.
It will be important to focus on having dedicated resources to support the key sectors, building partnerships with institutions and organizations as well as hosting roundtables.
The Mississauga Business Enterprise Centre will also remain a resource for new and existing businesses to access information, attend seminars, network, and ultimately access supports essential to success.
We will continue to work closely with MBOT to ensure the needs of our local business are met.
To compete globally, we must also be at the forefront of the knowledge economy and become a hub for new ideas and new business. Mississauga can become this hub of innovation and entrepreneurship, if we put in place the necessary supports and bring together the leaders in these sectors.
What separates great cities from good cities is their ability to foster and capitalize on creativity and innovation through its entrepreneurs, enterprises and cultural institutions.
Our innovators should not have to look outside our borders for supports but should be able to take their ideas from concept to commercialization right here in their own backyard.
The continued transformation of Mississauga’s economy will require a broad application of knowledge and innovation that includes investment in universities and colleges, the attraction of research and development activities, creative partnerships between government, business and local educational institutions and the advancements of a workforce with expertise in entrepreneurship.
I’m pleased to say that there are initiatives underway to build an innovation ecosystem and support our strategic goal to create a culture of innovation:
- Mississauga has active participation in the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE Network) – a collaboration of partners including our Mississauga Business Enterprise Centre and the Regional Innovation Centre (RIC), that is funded in part by the province to create a local innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem
- Implementation of distributed open innovation models, such as the co-location of RIC in Xerox Research Centre
- UTM’s Innovation Management Institute has secured Ontario Centre of Excellence funding for a campus link accelerator
I have also committed to creating the Mayor’s Taskforce on Innovation and Entrepreneurship to bring together the right people to move this agenda forward…
Mississauga will be an innovation City, competing on the national and international stage for the best and the brightest talent and ideas.
This includes preparing our youth for the jobs of tomorrow and encouraging them to become entrepreneurs. The youth unemployment rate in Peel Region is close to 20 per cent; we are at risk of losing a generation of youth.
We cannot allow this to happen, which is why I will be issuing the Mayor’s Youth Jobs Challenge to encourage local businesses – yourselves included – to hire and mentor local youth.
Our Economic Development Office operates the Summer Company Program, which provides training, mentoring and opportunity to receive up to a $3,000 provincial grant for students to start and operate a business over their summer. Since 2001 we have helped over 120 students launch businesses and gain entrepreneurship experience while providing their own employment opportunity
A recent impact study on the success of the youth Summer Company program showed, 98% of the entrepreneurs gained transferable skills for entrepreneurship and employment, and influences almost 70% of the young entrepreneurs to pursue entrepreneurship education and career paths.
We have a plan to continue to support youth entrepreneurs by working to build stronger relationships with education, starting right from the school boards to help guide our young people towards fulfilling and rewarding careers and become engaged in our local community.
If we invest in our youth early, we will all realize a significant return on investment.
Your Mayor and City Councillors represent the needs of the over 750,000 residents of Mississauga, but they also represent the needs of all businesses
You are constituents too and your concerns and issues must be heard at City Hall. As Mayor, I will ensure this happens.
As the Ward 5 City Councillor, I met regularly with the over 10,000 businesses I represented. I also regularly attended corporate calls with the Mayor to local businesses to hear their concerns and offer our assistance.
I was also the only councillor to put out a newsletter specifically targeted to the businesses in my ward.
I have enjoyed a successful 20 year business career with Fortune 500 companies and as a small business owner – I understand the challenges you face every day and what you need to succeed.
My objective is to move Mississauga forward by growing our economic base by making the prudent investments in our transit and transportation infrastructure; supporting our local businesses while always striving to attract international investment; and ensuring our workforce – especially our youth – is prepared to succeed in the 21st century.
I truly believe that Mississauga’s best days are before us
I am excited to work with you to move Mississauga forward and carve out our place as a global business leader and a destination for investment.
As long as I am the Mayor, the door to my office will always be open to you.
Together, we will build a great City.