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Ontario-Looking Forward

Steve Stackhouse-Kaelble (Jun/Jul 08)
(page 2 of 2)
Making Investment Easier
The Ontario government has embarked on a number of projects intended to make it easier for businesses to deal with government agencies. If companies want to invest and grow, the philosophy goes, why shouldn't government be there to help rather than hinder the process?

One of the latest examples of this philosophy is the new Investment and Trade Centre, which was established earlier this year to help the province sell itself as a great place for international businesses to locate and grow. It's a partnership involving the province and other levels of government, along with economic development organizations and business groups. The plan is to create one door through which international investors may walk to find a wide range of investment services and expertise, and also to showcase the province's business advantages.

"This center is telling the world that Ontario is a great place to do business," says Pupatello. "We have brought together a high-powered, expert sales team that's making it easy for businesses to learn about us and come here." What's the sales pitch? Among other things, Ontario represents nearly 40 percent of Canada's gross domestic product, at $558 billion, and it attracts billions of dollars in foreign investment ($19 billion in 2006). And of course, it's a great entry to the rest of the $15 trillion North American market. "We are a leading North American economy, and we need this level of collaboration and engagement with other markets around the globe to attract good businesses," she says.

A Solid Economy
Even as economists in the United States debate the magnitude of the current economic slowdown and what to call it, the Ontario economy has been rolling along and performing well. The economy is diverse and well-balanced, which is why the province's economists have been bullish about growth prospects, forecasting real GDP to grow by 1.6 percent in 2007, 2.8 percent in 2008 and 3.1 percent in 2009.

About a fifth of the output can be traced to manufacturing; the top five sectors are transportation equipment, metal products, food processing, chemicals, and electrical/electronic products. Top exports from Ontario include motor vehicles and parts, machines, electrical products, metals, and plastics.

Boosting the province's future is a solid core of R&D activity. Ontario is the site of the majority of Canada's industrial research and development, and the cost of such activity compares favorably to the United States and other leading western jurisdictions. Canada as a whole has one of the most generous R&D incentive programs of all major economies, with a wide range of deductions and credits that can offset a large chunk of R&D costs.
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