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Toronto (a.k.a. Accordion City)

Can Accordion City be an Alpha City?

Hacking Toronto: Making a Better City

Maria pointed me to a Globe and Mail article titled Does beta city have what it takes to be an alpha?. The basis for the article is a statement by Greg Clark, lead adviser to the British government on city development and a paid strategy adviser to TEDCO (Toronto Economic Development Corporation).

Here’s a snippet from the article:

Toronto, at the moment, is considered a “beta city” for its globalized business credentials, in the same league as San Francisco and Zurich.

“Can Toronto be an alpha city? Yes it can, in my opinion,” Mr. Clark said after addressing city council’s economic development committee yesterday. But Toronto will have to better co-ordinate all that it does with an aim to competing for business investment with cities around the world, he said.

And to transform Toronto into a major player on the world stage, Mr. Clark said, Mayor David Miller doesn’t necessarily need to win his fight for more money from the provincial and federal governments.

“There is a huge amount of capital that is out there available to invest in many of the things the city wants to invest in,” he said. “And if the city didn’t get a penny more, a cent more, from the provincial and federal governments, which obviously I hope it will, there are still are mechanisms” that it could use, such as public-private partnerships, tax-incentive financing and other “innovative tools.”

“. . . Nearly every city that made real progress in the last 10 years has done it using innovative finance in as much as using transfer payments from higher tiers of government,” Mr. Clark said.

According to Clark, the world’s leading cities are strong in these four areas:

  • Creative industries [Again, the Creative Class plays a key role!]
  • Tourism
  • The financial sector [Yes, suits are important]
  • “Power and influence”

Clark says that Toronto scores reasonably well in those areas and offers these specific advantages:

  • Being in North America but not in the United States
  • Our “extraordinary diversity”, which attracts global companies
  • Efforts like the MaRS innovation centre, which aims to turn new ideas into commercial businesses, (“an example of something Toronto does well but needs to do on much larger scale,” according to the article)

The article concludes with a “Ranking world cities” chart, which is based on work by the Globalization and World Cities Study Group, a research network that “focuses upon the external relations of world cities” centred at Britain’s Loughborough University.

The chart measures status as a “command point in the world economy” by assessing the comparative level of services in these areas, which researchers believe are key features of world-class cities.

  • Accountancy
  • Advertising
  • Banking and finance
  • Law

I’ve taken the chart and formatted it for the web, linking each city name to its corresponding Wikipedia entry. If you’re looking for data on ranking world cities for comparison’s sake or are just hoping to kill a lot of time on the web today, this chart is for you!

Alpha Cities First tier
Second tier
Beta Cities First tier
Second tier
Third tier
Gamma Cities First tier
Second tier
Third tier

A little side-note: the article was written by Globe and Mail staffer Jeff Gray, a friend of mine from Crazy Go Nuts University. We were section editors at the main school newspaper, the Queen’s Journal together, where he was the News editor and I edited a section called Misc, which ran on the back page and was a humour/”lifestyle” section.

2 replies on “Can Accordion City be an Alpha City?”

Pure dreaming — will never happen in this city under the current administration.

When you talk about P3 (public-private partnerships) projects, people in this city think about:

– Highway 407

– Pearson airport redevelopment

– Health care (Toronto Hospital, William H. Osler P3 projects, etc)

– Small-town water purification projects

In other words, all stuff associated with evil conservative mojo. Of course, your effort doesn’t fall into one of these land-mine areas, but I am highly skeptical of this particular city council’s desire to get involved in more P3 initiatives.

Toronto : Fast & Creative…

Toronto makes the list as one of Fast Company’s “The 30 Fastest Cities” as a Global Village. (Vancouver also made the list as a Livable and Green Leader)
And via the Globe and Mail comes news that Richard Florida, economist and author…

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