Economy of Toronto
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The economy of Toronto plays a vital role in Canada's economy and that of the world. Toronto is a commercial, distribution, financial and industrial centre. It is the banking and stock exchange centre of Canada, and is the country's primary wholesale and distribution point. Ontario's wealth of raw materials and hydroelectric power have made Toronto a primary centre of industry. The city and its surrounding area produces more than half of Canada's manufactured goods.
Toronto is located on a crossroads dating back to aboriginal times with excellent harbours with many rivers. The economy grew based on the settlement of Ontario. During the late 19th century, Toronto became the centre of railways and the supplier of goods to Ontario. Its status as a political centre gave it some stability during periods of economic uncertainty. Toronto saw a large boom after World War II when immigrants, especially from war-decimated Europe, chose the area to settle. Manufacturing, notably automotive manufacturing, grew to supply the growth in population. Toronto grew at a faster rate than the other great centre of Canada at the time, Montreal, and surpassed it in the 1970s. Shipping by water was instrumental in Toronto's early growth, but this has diminished to the point where the harbour is lightly used by industry. The area around Pearson Airport, the country's busiest airport, has become one of the largest industrial areas.
Further growth in the Toronto area is often attributed to the rise of Quebec separatism, though the extent of its influence is still contested by some, who argue that its effect was exaggerated by the English media. During the 1970s, the Quebec Liberal Party and the Parti Québécois enacted a series of French-language laws, which were perceived as unfavourable towards English-language businesses (especially multinational corporations, whose markets extended far beyond Quebec's borders) and English-speaking Montrealers. Some of the former (including the Bank of Montreal) and a number of the latter subsequently relocated to Toronto, where French proficiency is not a necessity for business or employment.
In the past 25 years, Toronto has lost most of its manufacturing capacity, most of it moving to outlying suburbs in the Greater Toronto Area, seeking lower land costs and land for expansion. This is not a new trend; it has been present for over 100 years. Early suburbs, such as West Toronto, developed for industry and were later engulfed by the expansion of the City of Toronto. West Toronto once had a large stock yards, which has moved well north of the city. Much of the older industrial land has been converted into new residential neighbourhoods, supporting loft and condominium development and the industrial concerns have moved further away.
Toronto itself has diversified into service-based industries. It is the centre of the Anglophone media industry in Canada, the advertising industry, the entertainment industry, the fashion industry, the pharmaceutical industry, the retail industry and the centre of the financial industry in Canada. The area is a large site of computer software development. Toronto has also become the site of many headquarters of companies, which have their primary activities elsewhere, such as mining and real estate, which need to stay close to the centre of finance. As Toronto developed, it has also developed its tourism industry, developing attractions such as the Toronto Eaton Centre, Rogers Centre, Air Canada Centre, Roy Thomson Hall, Art Gallery of Ontario and most notably the CN Tower, though it is also a communications tower.
As the business and financial capital of the country, and one of the world's largest financial centres as per the British Global Financial Centres Index, Toronto hosts the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX), the third largest stock exchange in the Americas by market capitalization and seventh in the world (see List of stock exchanges for complete rankings) (as of Dec 31, 2011). The TSX has led North American exchanges by being the second to trade electronically and the first to become listed publicly. In the last decade,[when?] it outperformed many other stock exchanges worldwide. The financial district in Toronto centres on Bay Street, the equivalent to Wall Street in New York. Toronto is the third largest financial centre in North America, after New York City and Chicago, with approximately 205,000 staff in the Canada's biggest banks and brokerages. In 2008, Forbes Magazine named Toronto the 10th most economically powerful city in the world, ahead of Madrid, Philadelphia and Mexico City.
Toronto is one of the centres of Canada's film and television industry, due in part to the lower cost of production in Canada. The city's streets and landmarks are seen in a variety of films, mimicking the scenes of American cities such as Chicago and New York. The city provides a diversity of settings and neighbourhoods to shoot films, with production facilitated by Toronto's Film and Television Office.
A major new film studio, Filmport, started construction in 2006, with the first phase opening in March 2008 and the second phase in 2010, and features the largest sound stage in North America, at 4,000 square metres (43,000 sq ft). The city also hosts the annual Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), one of the largest in North America, as well as Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, the largest such festival in the continent.
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Toronto is home to a sprawling and diverse commercial infrastructure. The Toronto Eaton Centre is the primary tourist attraction in Toronto, with over one million visitors a week. Other commercial areas that receives many tourists include the PATH network, which is the world's largest underground shopping complex and the eclectic Kensington and St. Lawrence Market. The Mink Mile and Yorkville neighbourhood is one of the most elegant shopping and dining districts in Toronto.
Along Queen Street East, Toronto's biggest camera stores can be found there. Big-box stores are not generally found in downtown Toronto, but the suburbs have many large malls, big-box stores, as well as specialty stores, for example, stores selling discount fashions and lighting nearby Orfus Road close to Yorkdale Shopping Centre.
The fashion district is located near King and Spadina, close to the old Chinatown to the north and entertainment district to the east. Sunday shopping in Toronto first got its start in the fashion district in the 1980s.
St. Lawrence Market is a large, historic vendors market with an open air section in summer selling fresh locally grown produce. Kensington Market also has an outdoor vendor section located close to Chinatown.
The city itself has many large and unique malls and shopping centres. Shopping in Toronto has become a large draw for tourists, with, for example, the Eaton Centre being designated as a tourist attraction in the 1980s. Toronto and its immediate area also boasts many large ethnic shopping malls, the largest of which is Pacific Mall in Markham, catering to the area's large Chinese population.
The Toronto Islands are a major tourist draw, attracting people for the beauty of the scenery, the ban of private motor vehicles on the islands outside of the airport, and proximity to downtown Toronto. As well, the CN Tower, Casa Loma, Toronto's theatre and musicals are all magnets for tourists.
Toronto boasts a wide variety of different high-end cuisines, because of its cultural diversity. As Toronto is the most multicultural city in the world (based on percentage of residents being foreign born), Toronto has immigrants from every corner of the world, including little Indias, Chinas, Korea, and even a little Malta. It has recently[when?] become noted for the availability of quality restaurants.
Firms with headquarters in Toronto
A number of major corporations are based in the city, including the Hudson's Bay Company, Manulife Financial, TD Canada Trust, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Royal Bank of Canada, Scotiabank, Bank of Montreal, Celestica, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Rogers Communications, and many others. Many other companies are also based in the Greater Toronto Area outside of the city limits, such as IBM Canada, Citibank Canada and Magna International.
Other companies with head offices in Toronto:
- BMG Music Canada (media - music) - Canadian operations
- Brookfield Asset Management (property management) - Global HQ
- Coca-Cola Company (non-alcoholic beverages) - Canadian operations
- Cookie Jar Group (children's entertainment and films) - Global HQ
- Fairmont Hotels and Resorts (hotelier) - Global HQ
- McClelland & Stewart (media-publisher) - Global HQ
- McDonald's Canada (fast food restaurants) - Canadian operations
- Manulife Financial (insurance and financial services) - Global HQ
- Marriott International (formerly Marriott Hotels & Resorts, Canada-also home to Toronto Marriott Eaton Centre, Marriott's flagship Canadian hotel) - Canadian operations
- Nortel (telecom) - Global HQ
- Nelvana (children's entertainment and films; part of Corus Entertainment) - Global HQ
- Oxford Properties (property management) - Global HQ
- Porter Airlines (regional airline)
- Rogers Communications (telecommunications and media - radio, television, cellular)
- Onex Corporation (private equity and investment firm) - Global HQ
- Sirius Canada (satellite radio) - Canadian operations
- Sunwing Airlines, a discount vacation airline operating Boeing 737s and Boeing 767s.
- Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada (automaker) - Canadian operations
- XM Radio Canada (satellite radio) - Canadian operations
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