A highly collaborative Toronto delegation conducted a key business mission to Amsterdam this week, led by the three Toronto Inc partners – Destination Toronto, Toronto Region Board of Trade and Toronto Global – along with teams from two of the most significant drivers of economic impact for our region (and perhaps for the country), Toronto Pearson Airport and the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. 

The delegation delivered an important Toronto presence at the annual SIBOS financial conference, taking place in Amsterdam this year ahead of meeting in Toronto next year, convened a timely Airport Economic Zone Exchange with a team from Schiphol Airport and key local stakeholders, and strengthened connections with several key tour operators as well as Trade Commissioners from the Canadian Embassy and the Canada-Netherlands Chamber of Commerce.

SIBOS Conference

SIBOS will bring 8,000 attendees to Toronto in September 2023 and represents not only substantial economic impact from the visitor spending generated from the event, but also acts as a catalyst for further economic development in Toronto’s financial and tech sectors. 

For our year-prior activation at SIBOS, the DT and MTCC teams worked directly with show management to understand the show’s evolving structure and needs, particularly in its first full conference since prior to the pandemic, and also with exhibitors who are already preparing their booth activations at the Convention Centre and a substantial number of offsite events. 

At the same time, with its emphasis on global financial sector and emergent FinTech companies, the show provided an opportunity for further business development for potential foreign direct investment in Toronto as companies gain awareness of Toronto and the opportunities it presents as a base for North American operations, data centres, research labs or other businesses that bring investment and talent to our city and region.

Airport Economic Zone Exchange Program:

Over a full day and a half, the Toronto delegations exchanged insights, challenges and approaches to collaborative economic zone development. From the Toronto side, Toronto Pearson shared some key innovations that are underway or in progress including the Digital Border initiative and the substantial Net Zero initiatives. Leveraging data from its Economic Blueprint Institute, the Toronto Region Board of Trade demonstrated the Pearson region’s impact as the second largest employment zone in all of Canada.

Insights from the Schiphol and Amsterdam team centred around the evolution of the airport region from being merely a gateway to now a more integrated region guided by denser mixed-use urban development. Helping facilitate this is a shift in thinking about the kind of industry that can thrive in an airport region. Whereas in the past the airport region was designated for “airport-related” industries such as logistics aviation services, the new model embraces the idea that nearly every sector is airport-related, resulting in a more diversified mix of land use that includes data centres and business parks. 

Particularly noteworthy was the model of governance and investment used in Amsterdam that has enabled a high degree of cross-jurisdictional cooperation among municipalities, among different levels of government and among both the public and private sectors. 

A potential continuation of the Exchange Program with Schiphol is in discussion for a possible visit by the Amsterdam team to Toronto in 2023.