By Nathan Rudyk
Today was the culmination of months of work for the market2world team on a new Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) initiative we created with Canada's C-11 large cities. It started with a brand-building exercise this fall, and today culminated in the PR launch of ConsiderCanada.com and CanadaEnTete.com, Web sites that present Canada's large cities as a unified force for attracting new trade and investment opportunities.
Today's launch occured after a recent statement by Finn Poschmann, vice-president research at the C.D. Howe Institute, that "Canada’s international reputation as a destination for capital and investment is better than it has been for a generation."
But don't economic development execs from Canada's cities fan out around the world and compete against each other for lucrative foreign investment opportunities? Why bother working together? As John Jung, the CEO of Waterloo Region's economic development agency, Canada's Technology Triangle puts it, because "collaboration is the new competitive advantage".
At today's public relations launch in Ottawa, which garnered cross-country news coverage in less than 24 hours, Michael Darch, Executive Director of OCRI's Ottawa Global Marketing team, underlined the need for collaboration in the context of the mega-city phenomenon that makes the city-state the heart of the matter in 21st century economic development:
Let me share some FDI math. As many of you know as Ottawa’s lead economic development agency, OCRI has been active in China, with nine FDI trips over the last four years. And I’ve got the worn out shoe-leather to prove it! Chongqing, one of five national cities we try to meet with on a regular basis, has a population of 31,422,300 people in one single city. Canada’s population is just over 34 million people.
Every economic development executive present here today knows that working in isolation, you have the proverbial snowball’s chance in hell of making an impact in terms of systematically attracting foreign direct investment and trade from the world’s mega-cities. Operating as solo agencies, attempting to compete with each other, we simply don’t have the money to take on the world, but more important, we don’t have the time.
India’s new roads, ports and railways will not wait. China’s intelligent cities and clean technology solutions are being built now. Brazil’s IT challenges are urgent. Africa’s telecommunications infrastructure must happen. And every country has pressing needs for Canada’s natural resources and food, as well as Canadian R&D advancements to recycle and deploy these precious commodities for the maximum benefit of every citizen of the world.
Now, working together as a unified team, we can undertake meaningful, impactful investment and trade initiatives with the globe’s top 25 mega-cities. Places like Chongqing, Beijing, Mumbai, São Paulo, and Mexico City. Places that account for more than half of the world’s wealth according to the United Nations. And if we take in the top 40 mega-regions around the world, we are now talking about two thirds of the planet’s economic activity and about 85 percent of human technological and scientific innovation.
Mike, a friend and mentor who along with his dedicated Global Marketing team at OCRI has coached the market2world team over the last several years on how to make outsized awareness impacts on foriegn trade missions for both OCRI and the Ontario Technology Corridor, also quoted a recent Washington Times editorial that stated: “It may not be long before Americans see our northern neighbor as the land of the future.”
Mr. Darch would beg to differ. To him, we are not the land of the future. Canada, and Canada’s large cities, are here and now the best and brightest economic opportunity in the world. "Our job," said Mike today to his C-11 colleagues, "is to tell our story, tell it well, and bring home the economic benefits for all Canadians."
The last words go to Mike, and Lee Maleau, the CEO of the Vancouver Economic Development Comission, in their interviews with CBC Radio's Chad Pawson: