What approaches might attract new economic activity to the zone?

As has already been suggested, the principal objectives for an economic development strategy include:

  • offering potential investors a high quality of place to enable them to attract and retain a talented workforce;
  • maximizing opportunities for entrepreneurs to benefit from highly localized "knowledge spillovers" - that is, opportunities to engage in learning processes with local customers, suppliers, and institutions of knowledge creation.

With respect to the second objective, it should be pointed out that the battle for talent is especially ferocious in the higher education sector. Labour market analyses indicate that this battle will only intensify in the coming decade as institutions across North America strive both to replace retiring academics and create new areas of research excellence. For the universities within the Central Zone, which pay their salaries in Canadian dollars - and indeed, for any employers competing for creative, talented knowledge workers - a crucial bargaining chip in recruiting talented people from abroad (and for keeping local talent at home) has been quality of life and quality of place.

Central Zone communities such as Toronto, Hamilton, Waterloo, Guelph, and St. Catharines have been able to offer highly livable and (in world terms) affordable communities that meet the needs of this key segment of the labour pool. There is growing evidence, however, that this advantage is being eroded by the declining quality of public and private transportation systems, relatively unchecked urban sprawl, environmental degradation and pollution, increasing social and economic polarization, and a public school system under unprecedented stress.