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Strengthening economy remains ‘key priority’

As York Region nears completion of the 20 action items identified in its Economic Development Plan update, businesses have “largely recovered or even exceeded pre-pandemic levels.”

“Strengthening our economy is a key priority for York Regional Council, especially through the last few years,” says York Region Chairman and CEO Wayne Emmerson. “The focus on cultivating economic vitality is about creating opportunities for our residents.”

According to Statistics Canada Canadian Business Counts, York Region was home to 55,660 businesses in June 2022 – an increase of about 1,420 businesses or 2.6 per cent compared to 2019. Though the Region’s business growth over three years has been “moderate” because of the impact of the pandemic, it exceeded metropolitan area, provincial and country-wide growth rates, it reports.

“York Region remains a top destination for business, talent and investment as Canada’s second largest cluster of information and communications technology companies and Ontario’s third largest business centre,” says Emmerson.

The Region reports successfully completing about 90 per cent of the actions identified in the 2020-2023 Economic Development Action Plan update. Each of the plan’s 20 action items are underway and nearing completion. The Region credits working closely with York businesses, local municipal economic development offices and various industry partners with the progress.

Under the plan, the York Small Business Enterprise Centre and other regional business advisory services have shifted back from pandemic response to focus on business recovery and growth. The economic development marketing platform York Link earned a Marketing Canada award.

York announced more than $250 million in business investments and 800 new jobs at the Toronto’s Collision Conference, one of the world’s biggest technology conferences. Astera Labs, High QA, Loblaw and Syntronic have announced business investment and expansion projects, all of which contribute to job growth.

Members appointed to Agriculture and Agri-Food Advisory Committee’s 2023 to 2026 term will provide input to Region staff on the delivery of the Agriculture and Agri-Food Sector Strategy. Its goals include taking advantage of its location within the Greater Toronto Area and proximity to customers through direct farm marketing to meet demand for local food.

The Region also provided ventureLab, a leading global founder community for hardware technology and enterprise software companies in Canada, with its initial share of funding through the Region’s Innovation Investment Fund to expand the Hardware Catalyst Initiative. The initiative is Canada’s only hardware and semiconductor-focused lab and incubator for founders building hardware and semiconductor-focused products.

The Region completed a tourism marketing review and took part in several virtual employer roundtables conducted by York University to strengthen connections between institutions and the business community to address talent development, acquisition and retention.

The 2024-2027 Economic Development Action Plan will be developed and presented to Regional Council later this year. To learn more about economic development and available resources to grow a business, visit YorkLink.ca.

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