Sustaining a Strong Manufacturing Sector
What other cities can learn from Brampton
By A Correspondent
Like many North American cities, Brampton, Ontario, built its economic base throughout the 20th century on a thriving and growing manufacturing sector.
But in the early 2000s, manufacturing across the continent began to decline. As many other cities grappled with crippling job losses, Brampton was able to avoid sliding into a similar slump, showing resilience in its ability to diversify its business sectors and broaden the job base. Leaders and planners understood what modern industry was looking for, and put the city’s best attributes to work.
“Part of our more recent successes in building our job base has come from taking advantage of what we have in the city – a young, diverse and educated workforce, strong infrastructure and robust emerging technology sectors,” said Councillor Jeff Bowman, Chair of the Economic Development Committee at the City of Brampton.
Cassandra Baccardax is a Senior Advisor International Investment, Economic Development And Tourism at Brampton. “While we’ve been successful in building other emerging sectors, Brampton has always been able to maintain strong manufacturing over the years, and in fact has built up a niche in Advanced Manufacturing,” says Baccardax. “But building Brampton’s economy to what it is today was really done by identifying what works for the city and how can we use our advantages to make us even stronger.”
Brampton, the ninth largest city in Canada, has grown its business base tremendously over the past few years and now includes more than 8,700 businesses. Brampton is also home to some of the country’s top advanced manufacturing organizations including FCA Automobiles, ABB Inc., MDA Space Missions and Brican Automated Systems. According to Baccardax, Brampton is successful in attracting and retaining top businesses because it focuses on the important elements that matter to those companies.
“By strategically positioning the city with a selection of strong competitive attributes, we were able to diversify and push our job base to one that is more forward looking, making our economy much more resilient,” she said.
Some of these competitive attributes include:
•Location: Brampton is close to major transportation hubs (air, rail and highway), large cities and the United States, providing easy access to more than 450 million North American consumers. The city’s integrated supply chain helps it attract businesses that rely on receiving materials quickly and easily, as well as having immediate access to highly trained technicians and suppliers who can maintain and service crucial business components.
•Encouraging development: As one of the few cities in the Greater Toronto Area that still has a significant amount of vacant land, Brampton actively works to provide incentives for business that are looking to develop in the city.
•Promoting revitalization: Brampton’s Industrial Expansion Exemption can relieved development charges for businesses that expand existing buildings - promoting revitalization to areas of the city for the benefit of both residents and businesses.
•Labour pool: Brampton is home to one of the youngest and fastest growing labour forces in the country. With more than 200 cultures represented and almost 90 languages spoken, Brampton’s labour force offers global perspectives and international networks for their employers to leverage. The city is also home to Sheridan College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning’s Davis Campus and Algoma University , Magna Technical Training Centre and several trade schools and skill development centres also operate in the city. Using this knowledge base, Brampton has been successful in not only pushing Advanced Manufacturing — like Aerospace and Automotive — but also other forward looking sectors such as Human Health and Sciences and Information and Communications Technology.
•Building on Success: Businesses are often interested in being located near supporting businesses. By focusing on complementary business types – for example, creating a cluster of Aerospace and Automotive manufacturers – it’s easier to attract more companies and create jobs that drive the economy.
•Good Neighbourhoods: Businesses locate in cities where people want to live. Brampton boasts more than 36 square kilometres of parkland, encompassing more than 850 parks and 217 kilometres of city-owned trails, 25 recreation centers, specialized facilities including ice rinks, pools, fitness areas, racquet courts, indoor soccer and tennis centres and even a ski hill. Amenities like these support workforce retention and promote a positive work-life balance for the people who live and work in the city.
“A lot of the appeal for organizations to consider coming to Brampton comes down to us meeting many of their needs, where other cities can only meet one or two. It’s a combination of the people, location and forward looking sectors that really help to keep our economy strong,” said Baccardax.
About Brampton: The ninth-largest city in Canada, Brampton celebrates a diverse population that represents people from 209 distinct ethnic backgrounds who speak 89 different languages. Brampton residents and visitors have access to state-of-the-art recreation facilities and one of the fastest-growing transit systems in Canada. Opened in 2007, Brampton Civic Hospital is part of the William Osler Health System, which is one of the largest community hospitals in Canada. For more information, visit www.brampton.ca or follow @CityBrampton on Twitter.