Community

Markham’s Economic Development: A vision for sustainable growth

By Connor Simonds, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

As the sun sets on Markham’s landmark “Markham 2020” Economic Development Strategy, a new dawn rises with the unveiling of a visionary roadmap for the city’s economic brilliance and cultural resilience.

Over the past 15 years, Markham has evolved from a regional powerhouse to a global hub of innovation, attracting top-tier talent and investment from around the world. Now, armed with insights from over 1,100 stakeholders and a collaborative effort led by Deloitte LLP and Nordicity, Markham’s Economic Development and Culture Strategy for 2023-2027 sets the stage for an exciting chapter of growth, creativity, and community vibrancy.

Arvin Parsad, Commissioner of Development Services had this to say about the new Development Strategy: “Many strategies take the approach of dealing with economic development and culture separately. The approach we took was to merge them into one overall strategy.”

He said, “This approach was taken in order to recognize the important role that arts and culture play in the quality of life that is necessary to attract talent to a community in an information economy.

“Investment follows talent.”

Over the years, Markham has effectively executed targeted marketing initiatives, positioning itself as Canada’s high-tech capital and attracting substantial investment from various sectors, particularly telecommunications, IT, electronics, and life sciences. This concerted effort has propelled Markham onto the global stage, showcasing its vibrant business community and fostering an environment conducive to growth and innovation.

However, with changing dynamics and expanded responsibilities, a new strategy was commissioned in 2022 to encompass Markham’s growth, community priorities, and cultural aspirations. Conducted by Deloitte LLP and Nordicity, the development of the 2023-2027 Economic Development and Culture Strategy involved a comprehensive four-phase process, including economic base analysis, stakeholder engagement, action plan formulation, and strategy development.

The engagement process featured various methods, involving over 1,100 stakeholders, businesses, and community members. From town hall meetings to online surveys, the consultation process ensured that diverse perspectives were considered, providing valuable insights into economic growth, industry-specific strengths, and arts and culture development.

The resulting strategy focuses on core areas such as foreign direct investment, business retention and expansion, innovation and entrepreneurship, talent development, and arts and culture. Markham’s economic landscape, driven by diverse sectors including technology, manufacturing, and professional services, necessitates strategic initiatives to sustain growth and foster innovation.

Regional Councillor Alan Ho, the chair of the Economic Development and Culture Committee, spoke about what the new strategy means to the city.

“The new economic development and cultural strategy provides the city a roadmap to continue to build Markham’s innovation economy on a strong foundation of arts, culture and quality of life,” said Ho.

He continued, “Markham is home to Canada’s largest semi-conductor cluster, a new urban downtown, […] York University’s new campus, […] and plans to create the Markham Innovation Exchange. […] Markham is witnessing a major advancement that will continue to transform the community.”

Key objectives include enhancing the city’s global business presence, supporting local businesses through streamlined processes, nurturing entrepreneurship and innovation, and galvanizing the arts and culture ecosystem. Moreover, investments in infrastructure, community-based initiatives, and workforce development are crucial to enhancing quality of life and fostering economic prosperity.

The strategy’s overarching goal is to position Markham as a vibrant community where creativity, collaboration, and innovation thrive, ensuring sustained economic growth and cultural vibrancy. By leveraging its diverse talent pool, strategic partnerships, and entrepreneurial spirit, Markham aims to build a resilient and prosperous future for its residents and businesses alike.

In addition to economic objectives, the strategy recognizes the importance of investing in people and places. Markham’s diversity is one of its greatest strengths, and initiatives aimed at supporting community-based businesses, enhancing cultural offerings, and promoting workforce development are integral to nurturing a thriving and inclusive community.

Furthermore, the strategy acknowledges the significance of infrastructure and placemaking initiatives in creating vibrant and livable spaces. By investing in amenities, transportation options, and community facilities, Markham aims to enhance its appeal as a destination for residents, businesses, and visitors alike.

Overall, the Economic Development and Culture Strategy for Markham represents a comprehensive and forward-thinking approach to sustainable growth. By aligning economic development with cultural aspirations and community priorities, Markham is well-positioned to navigate the challenges of the future while capitalizing on opportunities for prosperity and innovation. Through collaboration, innovation, and strategic investments, Markham is poised to continue its journey as a dynamic and resilient city in the years to come.

One thought on “Markham’s Economic Development: A vision for sustainable growth

  • Great strategy but the Mayor in his new Strong Mayor budget is not funding any of the Arts and Culture recommendations. The City spent $200,000 for a plan that is not being implemented.

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