Business is Booming in the Borough
Development in Toronto rivals that in Chicago, Los Angeles and even New York. But most of the attention goes to the downtown core, sometimes leaving Scarborough out of the picture. The Scarborough Business Association (SBA) aims to revitalize the east end and shed this perception problem.
Established in October with U of T Scarborough as one of its founding members, the SBA’s partnership with the University gives the organization a stronger voice.
“U of T Scarborough has become part of our framework,” says SBA Marketing and Public Relations Coordinator Peter Haggert. “As a major employer, U of T Scarborough has established strong relationships in the community. The University’s experience and expertise with conducting business in the area has helped us from the start.”
Through educational opportunities and networking events, the SBA connects local businesses with one another as well as with international corporations. The organization holds monthly breakfasts where guest speakers share tips for success as well as their knowledge of business procedures specific to Scarborough and the surrounding area, such as the steps needed to do business with City Hall.
“Our members have told us that these breakfasts are essential. They tell us that they’re getting business opportunities when they’re meeting one another at these events,” says Haggert.
SBA members, along with distinguished UTSC alumni, academics and business leaders, also participate in UTSC’s annual Leader2Leader conference. The event is an opportunity for student entrepreneurs to learn about different approaches and skills that will help them on their path to starting their own ventures.
“The partnership is a great way for us to find opportunities for students,” says U of T Scarborough Chief Administrative Officer Andrew Arifuzzaman. “Many of our students end up working for organizations like the ones in the business association.”
Domenic Primucci, president of Pizza Nova, was one of the keynote speakers at this year’s Leader2Leader conference.
What’s more, UTSC and the SBA are founding members of the East Toronto Technology Roundtable, which aims to build a better technology community in the area.
“Scarborough-based technology companies as well as stakeholders like U of T Scarborough, SBA and relevant city operations are part of this initiative, which was jumpstarted by city councillor Michael Thompson, who is the chair of Toronto’s Economic Development and Culture Committee. He is also the chair of Invest Toronto, which helps foreign companies relocate to the city and access the local market,” says Haggert.
The University and the SBA are also working on a series of workshops to teach small-business owners about UTSC’s procurement system. Arifuzzaman says that many of the entrepreneurs in the area do not know how to access the University’s procurement system and may be missing out on opportunities.
“Other than understanding how to do business with the University, we want to help local businesses become more competitive in bidding processes,” says Arifuzzaman.
The Toronto Zoo, Rouge Park and local hospitals will also be involved in the workshops.
The SBA attends transit planning meetings at City Hall to advocate for Scarborough’s public transportation needs.
“We’re a local voice for our local issues,” says Arifuzzaman.
Moving forward, the partnership will continue to help foster leadership in the region.
“UTSC is an example of progress in the community,” Haggert says. “Together we’re creating the picture of what Scarborough will look like in the future.”