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October 30, 2007

« Gay Shift? | Main | The Outsourcing of Consumer Services »

The first round of comments on my Saturday column came mainly from Toronto but Buffalonians also have something to say.

Yesterday, while at lunch, the topic of conversation was that of Richard Florida (theory of the creative class) and his recent move to Toronto. The conversation led to a Globe and Mail article that ...formulates, as many of us have been doing for quite some time now, that the key to growth and prosperity it to capitalize on the fact that we're already a major force if you look at our region as a network. We all know that Buffalo must do a better job in marketing what we have, and what we are getting. One of those assets is our relationship to Toronto. When someone comes in to Buffalo for the first time Toronto is always on the laundry list when I talk of the great assets of our city. I tell them that they can leave Buffalo at 9am and still be in Toronto for breakfast. Then they can spend the day there and be back in their favorite city in time for dinner. That's the same length commute that many of my friends who live outside NY take to get into the city. It always amazes people that Toronto is so close. It also reinforces the idea that Buffalo should aim for becoming a strong mid-size city... with a mega cosmopolitan city within a short drive. Listen to what Florida writes as part of the lead-in for his article: "And yet everywhere we go we are met by Torontonians who either seem mystified that we would move to what they imply is a second-rate city, or seem to be seeking some kind of validation in our answer." Sounds a bit familiar doesn't it?

And vice-versa: One of "our" assets is proximity to Buffalo. I'm a huge Buffalo fan. I lived near Elmwood and taught at UB. The city has tremendous assets. Some of them, like great universities and great art museums are self-evident. Others a bit more mundane. As an American, I'm tickled pink we get watch our favorite US shows, as well as the Bills, on Buffalo TV.  Plus, I can pick up my favorite American micro-brews there.


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I found the article in Saturday's Globe and Mail very interesting. The perspective of the Golden Horseshoe as a single economic force is not new but had to be put out in a well developed argument. My only question to Prof. Florida is: Where's Hamilton? It's the only major city left off the map. You spoke of Guelph and Waterloo as important nodes. But Hamilton is where the creative class is finding a home; and an affordable one at that. The arts have, for the last twenty years, been a growing force and the city is in the midst of a huge economic makeover.

Gary Dare

Fifteen years ago, Canadian firms in Ontario were threatening to move across the border and leave southern Ontario, with Toronto becoming a hollowed-out semi-ghost town. Fast forward and it's Buffalo and Rochester (suffering losses at Kodak and Xerox, in particular) that has suffered a downslide.

The difference is drastic enough that Toronto (versus BuffaRoc) has been in the crosshairs of CNN's Lou Dobbs, whose weekly hour of xenophobia, isolationism, nationalism and protectionism is #2 and challenging Larry King for the top spot.


Related to this, it would be very interesting to hear your views of the Rochester water shuttle project, which did not work out. Could it be revived under the right conditions -- and what are they? (Concretely, I suppose this would be a good consulting project for ... someone.)

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