Author: Trevor McPherson, President & CEO, Mississauga of Board of Trade
This August will mark my two-year anniversary as President and CEO of the Mississauga Board of Trade (MBOT). I was fortunate to join a vibrant organization with a talented and dedicated staff team, a knowledgeable and professional Board of Directors – and, of course, a healthy balance sheet. Much credit goes to my predecessor, David Wojcik, for his leadership in strengthening the organization and ensuring that MBOT remained relevant and resilient through the worst of the pandemic. Together with our incredible members, it now feels we collectively are “back” – and we are ready for what is next for both MBOT and the City of Mississauga!
Several issues and recent developments have already made 2023 a consequential year for Mississauga’s business community. Following weeks of uncertainty about the future of the Region of Peel, the Province introduced Bill 112, the Hazel McCallion Act, on May 18th, creating three, single-tier municipalities of Mississauga, Brampton, and Caledon. While the proposed legislation answers some outstanding questions (e.g., “Are we headed towards an amalgamated City of Peel?”), countless others have been created. A 5-member panel appointed by the Ford government will determine how regional assets will be distributed and how certain services that are currently shared by these municipalities will continue under a new governance framework. Understandably, there are also concerns about the future of current Region of Peel staff, creating an additional sense of anxiety for these individuals. The sooner these questions are answered, the better for all involved. For its part, the Mississauga Board of Trade will be following developments closely and advocating as appropriate to ensure that there are no adverse or unintended consequences to our diverse and growing business community. This is our promise to our members as the City of Mississauga prepares to stand on its own without a regional level of government between it and the province. At MBOT, we will be looking to ensure that the savings and process efficiencies promised are realized by MBOT member businesses.
Of course, there are many other fundamental challenges on the minds of business leaders this summer as they plan for growth. It is clear that competition for talent and the need to “train up” for the skills required today and into the future will only continue for the next number of years. Our economy is experiencing transition on several levels. MBOT’s Talent Acquisition and Management Forum (held this past February) was an opportunity to share best practices and engage with Canada’s Immigration Minister on the federal government’s commitment to increase the number of new immigrants to the country, including an agreement with Ontario to double our province’s portion of economic immigrants by 2025, going from 9,000 in 2021 to 18,000. Of course, new immigrants (including international students) need affordable places to live – and this is another challenge for businesses in Mississauga and across the GTA. On this front, MBOT will be working with City officials to convene a business roundtable on the housing issue in early autumn.
I am excited about some of the new areas of work we are pursuing with our members and stakeholders. On June 1, 2023, the Mississauga Climate Leaders Program was launched, and it was wonderful to see approximately 150 people attend the kick-off event. MBOT is proud to partner with the City and Partners in Project Green on this initiative. Mississauga is already home to several cleantech companies, and this program will serve to educate and inspire businesses to take action to not only reduce their carbon footprint, but also increase their competitiveness, save energy costs, and attract top talent. Another area that is become very real for our members is the potential impact (positive and negative) of artificial intelligence (AI). While Chat GPT has awakened all of us to this powerful technology, it is important that we understand how it is changing business practices and reshaping the nature of work.
At MBOT, our team looks forward to collaborating with our members to connect, champion, and advance the interests of our business community as we tackle our shared challenges and opportunities.