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Inclusive Local Economic Opportunity

Traffic on the Golden Mile

In 2018, United Way Greater Toronto and BMO Financial Group launched a made-in-the-GTA initiative to respond to an urgent challenge: in the face of growing neighbourhood inequality, we wanted to ensure that every GTA community had the chance to benefit from our region’s prosperity. The Inclusive Local Economic Opportunity (ILEO) initiative builds on United Way’s resident-led Building Strong Neighbourhoods Strategy that BMO has invested in since 2005.

ILEO galvanizes the strengths and levers of all sectors and industries to drive economic opportunity at the neighbourhood level. It is a deliberate place-based approach to catalyze specific opportunities and enable the community, corporate and public sectors to work together towards our common goal. Scarborough’s Greater Golden Mile is the first neighbourhood o be part of the initiative.

Leaders from across the corporate, public, and community sectors have come together to co-create pilot projects that we continue to develop with local residents. These pilots are tailor-made to respond to the strengths, needs and desires of residents in the Greater Golden Mile. What has emerged from this collaboration is a multi-sector approach focusing on reducing gaps in economic prosperity in the Toronto region and creating lasting inclusive economic vitality at the neighbourhood level.

As the pilot projects continue to rollout, ILEO has already accomplished something significant: a model for creative new ways of working across sectors and bringing all levers of influence to collectively tackle a shared challenge. The work continues.

What does Inclusive Local Economic Opportunity mean?

ILEO is about leveraging investment across industries and sectors to create more opportunities for more residents to prosper and contribute to their neighbourhood’s revitalization.

  • Inclusive – More people sharing in the prosperity of the region
  • Local – Neighbourhood based and focused
  • Economic – Improves financial position and capability of residents
  • Opportunity – Not just jobs, but on ramps to financial security and self-sufficiency

The issue

In the GTA, residents’ chances of success are increasingly dependent on where they live. In a city that prides itself on the diversity of its neighbourhoods, middle-income neighbourhoods are vanishing, opportunity is becoming concentrated in high-income neighbourhoods and low-income neighbourhoods are being left behind. While the GTA has become a top area to live and work in, not everyone shares in the city’s growing prosperity.

  • In Peel, Toronto and York, more than 15% of the population lives on a low income, while 44% of workers are in some degree of precarious employment.
  • In Toronto, 49% of neighbourhoods were low income in 2015 – up from 26% in 1970.

Residents cite a lack of economic opportunity as one of the most pressing issues in their communities.

United Way’s response

United Way Greater Toronto has invested in, and provided direct assistance to, low-income communities through our Building Strong Neighbourhoods Strategy (BSNS). ILEO builds on this work and responds to residents across the GTA calling for a different approach to spurring economic opportunity. Driven by a multi-sector Leadership Table, this initiative brings together community, public and corporate sectors to address priorities identified by residents and create lasting inclusive economic vitality at the neighbourhood level.

The first round of projects to generate economic opportunity are launching in the Greater Golden Mile and include:

  • Led by RioCan and developed in partnership with PwC Canada. The SBC will accelerate emerging local businesses through the provision of time-limited, low-rent or rent-free spaces.

  • Community-owned infrastructure company, led by Aecon, that will meet supply chain needs for construction/maintenance contracts in part resulting from the Eglinton Crosstown LRT expansion.

  • A neighbourhood-based and employer-focussed jobs program that targets hard-to-hire-for jobs and works with companies and community agencies to design bespoke training and support that prepares local talent to meet their needs.

Why Greater Golden Mile?

When it comes to complex, multi-sector city building, focus counts. We identified a defined geographical area to focus our planning, piloting and evaluation of our ILEO work. We know these targeted efforts are vital to uplifting communities, including the Greater Golden Mile, that have not yet benefited from significant cross-sector investments.

Members of the ILEO Leadership Table

  • Tom Azouz
    General Manager
    Toronto Employment & Social Services
    City of Toronto

  • Anne Babcock
    President and Chief Executive Officer
    WoodGreen Community Services

  • John M. Beck
    Founder and Non-Executive Chairman
    Aecon Group Inc.
  • Ameen Binwalee
    Chief Executive Officer
    Out of the Box Social Enterprise
  • Cheryl Blackman
    Acting General Manager
    Economic Development & Culture
    City of Toronto
  • Romy Bowers
    President & CEO
    Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
  • Denise Campbell
    Executive Director, Social Development
    Finance & Administration
    City of Toronto
  • Giuliana Carbone
    Deputy City Manager
    Community & Social Services
    City of Toronto
  • Mitchell Cohen
    The Daniels Corporation
  • Dean Connor
    President & Chief Executive Officer
    Sun Life Financial
  • Cynthia Du Mont
    Executive Director
    West Scarborough Neighbourhood Community Centre
  • Michael Friisdahl
    President and Chief Executive Officer
    Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment
  • Meric Gertler
    University of Toronto
  • Jonathan Gitlin
    President and Chief Executive Officer
    RioCan REIT
  • Claude Guay
    President and General Manager
    IBM Canada
  • Cynthia Hansen
    Executive Vice President and President
    Gas Distribution and Storage
  • Sandy Houston
    Metcalf Foundation
  • Ahmed Hussein
    Chief Executive Officer
    TNO – The Neighbourhood Organization
  • Stephen Liptrap
    President and Chief Executive Officer
  • Heather McGregor
    Chief Executive Officer
    YWCA Toronto
  • Nicolas Marcoux
    Chief Executive Officer
    PwC Canada
  • Marcia Moffat
    Head of Canada
  • Hailee Morrison
    Executive Director
    Warden Woods Community Centre
  • Colette Murphy
    Executive Director
    Atkinson Foundation
  • Andrew Pickersgill
    Managing Partner
    McKinsey & Company Canada
  • Allison Pond
    Chief Executive Officer
    ACCES Employment
  • Marcie Ponte
    Executive Director
    Working Women Community Centre
  • Rosemarie Powell
    Executive Director
    Toronto Community Benefits Network
  • Andrew Pringle
    Principal and Chairperson
  • Steve Shallhorn
    Executive Director
    Labour Education Centre
  • Kenneth Tanenbaum
    Founder and Chairman of Kilmer Developments
  • Darryl White
    Chief Executive Officer
    BMO Financial Group (Co-Chair)
  • Beth Wilson
    Canada Chief Executive Officer
  • Daniele Zanotti
    President and Chief Executive Officer
    United Way Greater Toronto (Co-Chair)