John Aron shares views from Toronto: Advantages of a 'global city'

Over the past 25 years, we have seen a shift to a global marketplace. In today’s environment, being a “global city” proves a major advantage in growing the local economy.

With this competitive reality as a backdrop, 115 Nashville-area civic and business leaders joined the 20th annual Leadership Study Mission. This year, Nashville leaders chose to visit Toronto, a “global city” and growing North American powerhouse. The purpose of the trip was to examine four characteristics of a global city — political, economic, cultural and infrastructural — and determine what we could learn from Toronto.

On the political front, Toronto defines itself as a multi-cultural society, and its immigration policies are designed to attract skilled workers. Business leaders have made the intentional choice to welcome and integrate immigrants.

Economically, Toronto approaches redevelopment with the outlook that it needs to make the best use of places in its region.

Culturally, Toronto is very diverse. It is also intentionally bold with its architecture, as evidenced by its $36 billion waterfront redevelopment project. Toronto’s multi-cultural efforts appear integrated, socially responsible and well supported in the community.

Finally, Toronto’s infrastructure is unique, boasting the third-largest transit system in North America. Schools and libraries are the centers of communities, and businesses connect with higher-education institutions to maintain a critical mass of highly skilled workers and risk takers.

Nashville’s city leaders demonstrated wisdom and forethought when they implemented (these) missions 20 years ago, trips that are organized to seek out better practices and to bring them home to Nashville.

This year, Toronto delivered a clear message about the tenets of a global city: Be inclusive and multi-cultural, identify higher city goals and achieve these goals through collective problem solving.

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