Economic Assets

In addition to its 300,000 jobs, the Airport Megazone contains important economic assets that could be strategically leveraged to promote economic development in the Zone and beyond. They include “anchor” firms, such as head offices and major institutions, or infrastructure assets such as the Airport itself. Leveraging these assets would mean supporting and encouraging the external linkages, production networks, synergies, and interactions of firms with a supportive urban environment and planning framework. In other words, it means acknowledging, planning for and actively promoting the important role of agglomeration economies – sometimes characterized as “sharing, learning, and matching”[1] – in competitiveness, and the role of urban environments. Other jurisdictions are employing deliberate strategies to take maximum advantage of these economic assets.[2]

Of course, the most significant asset is Pearson International Airport itself, which is not only a major employer, but also connects Toronto and much of Canada to the rest of the globe. Many of the firms and economic activities in the AMZ are there because of the airport. Similarly, the CN Brampton Intermodal facility is an anchor for local distribution firms.

The megazone contains many corporate head offices and anchor firms in key industries, such as Pratt and Whitney, Rogers, Bell, Hewlett Packard, and BlackBerry. Important industry clusters are also found here, including a group of firms in the life sciences sector.

The AMZ has an important concentration of hotels, as well as major visitor destinations such as the Toronto Congress Centre and the International Centre. At present, these assets are not being leveraged; each establishment is an island unto itself, located in an inhospitable and unwalkable urban environment with few other amenities. A visitor district could be developed along the Dixon Road/Airport Road corridor where the hotels and convention facilities are found, which intensifies development, improves walkability, adds amenities, and improves the character of the area – to increase the attractiveness of this area for visitors and those who host events.

 

[1] G. Duranton and D. Puga, “Micro-Foundations of Urban Agglomeration Economies.” In Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, ed. J.V. Henderson and J.F. Thisse, Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2004.

[2] See, for example, Brooking Institution’s Bass Initiative on Innovation and Placemaking, http://www.brookings.edu/about/projects/innovation-and-placemaking