· by Whitney Eames
Two vocal champions of Canada’s Innovation Corridor — Keanin Loomis, CEO of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce and Jan De Silva, CEO of the Toronto Region Board of Trade — spoke about the benefits of collaboration in support of regional economic development on the Bill Kelly Show, AM900 CHML (June 15, 2018).
The interview was held to help promote the inaugural Canada’s Innovation Corridor Summit on June 26 at Royal Botanical Gardens. The event is an initiative of Canada’s Innovation Corridor Business Council, a partnership of leading chambers of commerce and boards of trade in Southern Ontario. Visit http://www.CorridorSummit.ca to learn more and register.
Loomis and De Silva called for deeper cooperation among municipalities to capitalize on the population growth occurring across an interconnected corridor anchored by Toronto, Waterloo Region and Hamilton-Burlington. Yet this growth ― including more than 100,000 additional people settling in the GTHA each year — comes with complex challenges, said De Silva.
These challenges, described by De Silva as “pain points,” include unprecedented levels of highway congestion, gaps in public transit needed to connect people to employment opportunities, and access to affordable housing in the corridor’s higher cost urban centres.
She also emphasized the need to develop a skilled workforce that includes people with talents across a wide spectrum of occupations, from robotics engineers to tradespeople to retail service workers, as well as transitional supports to help individuals displaced by automation.
Loomis stressed the research and education imperative as the foremost tool to help build up the corridor and energize local communities.
Loomis and De Silva said they agree on the corridor’s growing strength as a magnet for international talent and investment, including having the attributes required to attract global headquarters of leading corporations. Efforts to increase the corridor’s international reputation demand strategic investments in modern infrastructure within and among neighbouring communities, they said.
A leading example is the need to implement a comprehensive, multi-modal goods movement strategy that would help companies transport goods — including products manufactured in Canada — more efficiently throughout the corridor and beyond.