Chin up, Toronto. The website of U.S. business magazine Forbes has ranked Toronto as the world’s 10th most economically powerful city.
That may not be enough for an Olympic medal. But it puts Toronto on the same list as New York, Paris, Hong Kong, Tokyo and London, notes Stuart Green, a spokesperson for Mayor David Miller. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
“It acknowledges that Toronto is Canada’s economic capital,” Green said in an interview.
Councillor Adrian Heaps put it in a more jocular vein: “I don’t know the actual terms of reference Forbes used, but at the worst-case scenario, it’s free advertising,” said Heaps (Ward 35, Scarborough Southwest), a member of the economic development committee.
“Forbes has a brand as a higher-end publication,” he added. “I’d rather be labelled Top 10 by Forbes magazine than by Mad magazine.”
The Forbes analysis combines data on economic size, growth rate, the cost of living and the quality of life to come up with a ranking of economic power.
By the magazine’s measure, biggest isn’t necessarily best.
For example, New York and Tokyo are the world’s urban behemoths, each with gross domestic product (GDP) of more than $1 trillion a year, as of 2005. (All figures U.S. dollars; GDP measures the total value of goods and services produced in an area.)
Despite their size, both cities lag behind London in the power ranking, although London’s GDP, at $452 billion for 2005, is less than half that of New York and Tokyo.
London gets the top spot largely on the basis of its growth rate of 3 per cent, while its two larger rivals are growing in the 2 per cent range.
As for Toronto – Forbes apparently uses Greater Toronto for its measurements – the magazine pegged its GDP at $209 billion, as of 2005. Nipping at Toronto’s heels are Madrid, Philadelphia and Mexico City.
The website describes Toronto as the “economic heart of one of the world’s wealthiest countries, and it’s projected to keep humming through 2020.”
Toronto and London, it says, are the fastest growing financial centres in the G7 group of industrialized countries.
Green said Toronto is getting good notices internationally in part because of a series of new policies, such as granting property tax incentives for new business development in certain neighbourhoods, and committing to a long-term program of scaling back business property tax rates across the city.
A panel of prominent business, labour and community leaders appointed by Miller drafted a report on Toronto’s economy in January. And Miller added a senior economic adviser, Nick Lewis, to his office staff in the spring.
On the other hand, the city’s economic development staff has a glaring gap: It’s been a year since Don Eastwood resigned as general manager of economic development, and his replacement has yet to be named.
Carol Wilding, chief executive of the Toronto Board of Trade, says the article is a good tool for promoting the city to investors, but should also serve as a warning that other cities are competing vigorously.
“With the softening we’re seeing in the economy, now is not the time to rest on a ranking,” she said.
Forbes top 10
1. London: By 2020, it’s expected to leapfrog Paris to become Europe’s richest city as measured by gross domestic product.
2. Hong Kong: Benefits from its physical proximity to the Chinese mainland and its historical connection to Western markets.
3. New York: Only 14 countries have bigger economies.
4. Tokyo: One of the world’s most populous cities also has the largest economy.
5. Chicago: Faces competition from Los Angeles, which has a bigger population and economy.
6. Seoul: Like Hong Kong, Seoul benefits from a growing Asia and Western-oriented markets.
7. Paris: Its economy is bigger than London’s, but sluggish growth has it losing ground.
8. Los Angeles: On course to become the world’s third city with a trillion-dollar economy.
9. Shanghai: Its economy could more than double between 2005 and 2020.
10. Toronto: Narrowly edged out Madrid, Philadelphia and Mexico City. The economic heart of one of the world’s wealthiest countries, Toronto is projected to keep humming through 2020.