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Thoughts on IEDC’s 2017 Annual Conference

Updated: Aug 17, 2023

I’m impressed! That is how I left feeling about Toronto after a very successful IEDC Annual Conference a few weeks ago. A city of over 2.8 million people in a metro area of nearly 6 million, it is obvious that Toronto is a city on the move. Their workforce is visibly young, vibrant and international. Construction can be seen throughout the city. It’s safe and walkable, has an easy to use public transportation system, a major university in the heart of downtown with 85,000 students, and is just an all-around cool place.  It is not surprising that Toronto has already been identified as a potential location for Amazon’s HQ2.

Why should US cities take notice? Mayor John Tory shared during the conference that metro Toronto is beginning to realize the power of regional collaboration where it pertains to economic development.  They are now planning a number of visits to other countries in the near future, including the US, in an effort to attract new companies and investment. While the US arguably offers a more business friendly environment, these actions will almost certainly make Toronto more competitive globally. It will be incumbent upon all regions, particularly those that border our Canadian neighbors, to sharpen the tools in their own toolboxes.

Toronto was an excellent host city for the Annual Conference, which had a heavy focus on collaboration to achieve foreign direct investment. As a matter of fact, I had the great pleasure of moderating a session entitled Collaboration, Not Competition: Amplifying Your Region’s Global Message.  Our tremendous panel was comprised of Adriana Cruz, President of Greater San Marcos Partnership and Adekunle Ajiboye, President of Aajimatics with an affiliation to the Global Economic Institute of Africa.

Congratulations to Jeff Finkle and the rest of IEDC on a job well done! As always, it was great catching up with old friends and meeting new ones. I’d like to congratulate Michael Langley on a successful year as IEDC Chair, and provide well wishes to Craig Richards as he takes on those duties for 2017/2018.  Finally, I would be remiss if I failed to recognize the leadership that Roy Williams, President and CEO of Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, has provided to IEDC’s Board. I have had the pleasure of working closely with Roy during two of the three Forward Oklahoma City campaigns that RDG has managed, and I know what a valuable member he has been to IEDC’s Board. Your leadership will be missed, Roy.

I’ll see you all in Las Vegas for the Leadership Conference where Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance will be our host organization. We are looking forward to that, Jonas Peterson!

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