American group ranks Burlington as a leader in attracting foreign direct investment; let's try keeping what we already have.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

July 2nd, 2019



When the news is bad release it on a Friday and get some good news out the following week.

The good news for Burlington is that Burlington has been ranked Ranked Internationally by American Cities of the Future for Foreign Direct Investment Strategy

Burlington has received an American Cities of the Future 2019/20 Award for top Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Strategy. Placing 23rd on the list of cities, Burlington is one of only a handful of small and medium sized cities to make this distinction. More than 200 cities were considered, and Burlington is one of only four cities with a population less than 1 million. Other winning cities include New York City, Chicago, Greater Montreal, and nearby Mississauga.

Cities were assessed based on four key categories: Economic Potential, Business Friendliness, Human Capital and Lifestyle, and Cost Effectiveness and Connectivity. Business that choose to locate in Burlington leverage the highly educated talent pool of over 2 million within a 45-minute commute, regional and international transit hubs and excellent quality of life.

Casasidy - Anita

Anita Cassidy, Acting Executive Director at the Burlington Economic Development Corporation (BEDC).

“BEDC works very hard to attract new companies to our community and this international distinction recognizes what we have been doing for years,” said Anita Cassidy, Acting Executive Director at the Burlington Economic Development Corporation (BEDC).

“Being one of the smallest cities on this list demonstrates our competitive advantage over other regional locations and the reason businesses choose Burlington.”

In 2019 BEDC partnered with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) to provide immigration support to Burlington companies with highly qualified talent from around the world.

The BEDC team continues to partner with Toronto Global and Halton Region to attract and support businesses to invest in Burlington.

In 2017, BEDC helped Finnish Robotics company, Orfer, locate in Burlington from Finland via the soft-landing program at TechPlace, Burlington’s Innovation Centre that is led and supported by BEDC.

TechPlace provided them with office space, connections to partners, and hiring support during the first several months while they began the process of opening their first North American headquarters.

L3 Wescam looking south - shop right

Looking north, yards away from the Mountain Brow. Shopping Plaza on the right, engineering firm on the left.

The bad news that hit the fan last week was the announcement that L3 Wescam was moving from their Burlington location to new digs in Waterdown at the intersection of highways 5 and 6.

L3 Wescam looking south

Looking south at the intersection of High way 5 and 6 at Clappisons Corner

The site is massive and will have space for 1400 cars to park – no mention of bike racks.

aerial of Bronte meadows

The people promoting the GTA as a possible home for Amazon’s HQ2 thought Bronte Meadows would work for part of the plan. Why wasn’t the site looked at for L3Wescam?

The Bronte Meadows site in Burlington was more than big enough to accommodate was Burlington wanted to do. The property, zoned as Economic Land, intended for the commercial sector, apparently wasn’t available. Paletta International has been trying for more than a decade to have the property zoned for residential.

There is a deeper story in all this somewhere – Burlington is going to have to come up with the skill sets to have land designated as employment land and used for that purpose.

In past news stories the GAzette reported the following:

Gerry Smallgange , president of Burlington Hydro pointed out that BEDC does not have a “deal maker”; has never had a “deal maker” and that the city has to re-think the way it has zoned its employment lands.

Pat Sugrue, who ran Fearman’s Pork when it was bought in November 2010 by Sun Capital Partners from Maple Leaf Foods Inc. for $20 million told a Standing Committee meeting in 2011 that Sun Capital moved very quickly and scooped another offer that was on the table because they were able to commit to the deal in seven days and close it within 45 days. Burlington hasn’t see a deal like that in the last century.

Sugre made another important point: municipal people do not, cannot and should not be in the deal making business. It takes people with skills sets that don’t exist in a municipal environment.

The L3Wescam ball got dropped much the way the International Harvester Navistar ball got dropped.

Related news stories:

BEDC has been struggling to find its way for more than five years.

L3 Wescam needed more space – and the city wasn’t able to find anything for them.

International Harvest Navistar was on their way to Mississauga when a Hamilton developer made them a better offer – they ate our lunch.

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