Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is set to lead the charge next month during a business trip to Chicago in the hopes of attracting investment and businesses from the Windy City to set up shop in the financial epicentre of Canada.
On Sept. 18 and 19, Mayor Rob Ford, along with business leaders George Cohon, founder of McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada, and Robert Deluce, president of Porter Airlines, will visit with Chicago Mayor and former United States President Barack Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, key business figures and the Consul General of Canada.
The two-day visit is part of a renewed vision of the Partner City relationship that was initiated more than 20 years ago. The business mission will consist of luring Chicago businesses to move their operations north of the border. It will also focus on establishing strategic alliances and build investment, education and trade opportunities between the two cities.
All of the Team Toronto members will be responsible for the costs of their own participation and there will not be any taxpayers’ money involved. Usually, the mayor criticizes councillors traveling abroad, but Ford argues that this business mission is about creating jobs for Toronto and his trip, estimated to be about $2,000, will be paid entirely out of his own pocket.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford speaking at a press conference at city hall to renew the Partner City relationship between Chicago and Toronto.
“This mission will be the beginning of a renewed relationship, and it will let Chicago know Toronto is open for business. Toronto business leaders will have new opportunities and avenues to do business in one of North America’s biggest financial and manufacturing regions. Toronto is growing at a phenomenal rate, and we have a lot to offer,” the mayor told reporters Tuesday at city hall.
“For more than 20 years the two cities have shared information in numerous sectors, which has helped advance economic interests in both cities. Toronto and Chicago are financial hubs that are home to some of the most successful financial institutions. In fact, two of the three largest financial centres in North America are in Chicago and Toronto.”
Prior to the press conference, city officials were discussing among themselves that the primary aspiration is to encourage city investment not just in Chicago, but also to the rest of the world. Toronto is a partner city to Frankfurt, Germany, Milan, Italy and Chongging, China.
George Cohon, Founder of McDonald's Resurants of Canada, Councillor Michael Thompson and Robert Deluce, President and CEO of Porter Airlines.
Hundreds of Chicago businesses across all sectors, such as manufacturing, technology and architecture, have shown interest in the city already.
Ford highlighted the many business accomplishments in Toronto, including being home to the third largest stock exchange in the world, five of the largest domestic banks and branches of leading global branches, like HSBC and Citigroup, two of the largest 10 global life insurance companies and four of the five largest investment management firms in the country.
When asked if there is one thing that Chicago has that he wishes Toronto would also have, Ford responded with the Stanley Cup that the Chicago Blackhawks won in 2010.