French President Francois Hollande welcomed Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre to the Élysée Palace in Paris.
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson travelled to the Vatican for a climate change conference, hosted by Pope Francis.
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) pairs Canadian municipal experts with counterparts in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean to address challenges including emergency preparedness.
In 2015, I undertook an investment mission to South America. Our goals were to forge closer relations with businesses and advance the interests of Mississauga’s leading industry clusters, including life sciences.
Mississauga is Canada’s second largest life sciences cluster by employment, home to over 390 life science companies employing over 25,000 people.
Whether it’s environmental stewardship, international aid or economic development, Canada’s local leaders continue to take active leadership roles on issues of global importance. We need more of this, especially when it comes to attracting and retaining foreign-direct investment.
Cities are the lifeblood of our economy. As a former Member of Parliament and now as mayor of Canada’s sixth largest city, I know FDI cannot be the sole responsibility of the federal or provincial governments.
Last year, Prime Minister Trudeau travelled to Belgium to sign Canada’s free trade deal with the European Union – one of the most comprehensive trade agreements in the world, which will lead to more economic opportunity locally.
The federal government also wants to improve the coordination of foreign-direct investment with all governments, by allocating $218 million to establish the new Invest in Canada Hub agency.
The Trudeau and Wynne governments are creating the right environment for business investment, retention, growth and expansion.
I was honoured when Premier Wynne invited me to be part of her delegation that undertook an Ontario business mission to India. Mississauga is home to a significant Indian diaspora, 17 Indian-based companies and the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce (ICCC) is represented on Mississauga’s International Partnership Program Committee (MIPP).
And this week, I embarked on an investment mission to India being organized by our partners at the ICCC. I’ll be posting ongoing updates about the meetings and conferences our delegation takes part in.
I have always said local government does not have the same powers as other governments. We cannot offer tax incentives or sign treaties. Like entrepreneurs, we must think outside the box.
How do we do this? My answer has been clear. We build on existing assets, strengthen professional networks, invest in knowledge infrastructure and bring people together.
In cities across Canada, economic development offices are staffed with professionals aligning the economic and cultural synergies of their cities and regions with global communities and business.
Local economic development staff work with international businesses to understand domestic rules and regulations, and to learn about provincial and federal incentive programs.
Municipalities know how many acres have been zoned for commercial development and whether land has the infrastructure in place to get investment flowing and construction underway. We have a plan to accommodate future population and employment growth.
We know how many railways, highways, airports and harbours there are and the reach of these important gateways to help businesses extend their reach.
While in South America, we held over 100 meetings, in three countries, over eight days, connecting with businesses, including Biolab, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in Brazil.
Our investment mission is paying dividends. Biolab has chosen Mississauga as home for its new research and development centre.
This will be a state-of-the-art facility that will create high-paying and high-value jobs, many in research and development. This new Biolab investment will add to our tax base, providing important funding that will go toward the quality public services we all rely on like transit, affordable housing and public health.
Did you know that the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) offers a Masters of Biotechnology – one of the few programs of its kind in Canada? UTM’s Academy of Medicine graduates talented men and women into the field of medicine. In fact, over 66 per cent of Mississauga’s workforce has a post-secondary education.
I discussed this firsthand with Biolab and many other business representatives from the pharmaceutical industry who need access to an educated, talented and hardworking workforce that will help develop new medical breakthroughs and allow life science companies to remain ahead of the competition.
As Mississauga’s ambassador, it’s my job to sell my city nationally and internationally. We secured this new investment because we were on the ground in Brazil making our pitch, building important and lasting connections, and sharing Mississauga’s success story.
The federal or provincial governments can’t be expected to know complete details about each Canadian city. This is where mayors come in. Canada’s local leaders must continue to shape global affairs and take active leadership roles on issues of international importance.