Stand UP for Brampton’s Paul Vicente and Rowena Santos met with the President of Ryerson University, Dr. Mohamed Lachemi, to discuss Ryerson’s proposal for a new university. From that meeting it was clear that Brampton has found a collaborative partner committed to community building. This is the second of a three-part series.
Ryerson University Part II: Economic benefits and the Innovation Hub
Promoting innovation and business development are hallmarks for Ryerson. Their new campus in Brampton is uniquely positioned to engage the city’s young and diverse population.
“We are in the business of talent development. Our role is education. We think that there is an opportunity for a university like ours to capture the talent of the region,” explained Dr. Lachemi. “Brampton is a city with a lot of youth, but it’s also a city that has this aspect of diversity where I can tell you, for families, the priority for them is education for their kids.”
Ryerson has already proven through its collaborative approach in Toronto that it can do a lot to engage the business community to provide its students with real-life work experiences that will prepare them for the workplace of the future. But the benefits of having a local university go further.
“When you have a business idea, location, location, location is important. I personally think that Brampton has a huge strategic advantage in terms of its location; You are fifteen minutes from the airport, a major airport, the most important airport in the country.”
There will be an immediate and long term economic ripple effect when Ryerson comes to Brampton. Construction, hiring of faculty, demand for campus housing, student materials and supplies will be imminent. Existing businesses will be supported by more customers downtown with students and visitors coming to the city. This will also open the market for new cafes, restaurants, and small businesses.
The Ryerson campus will organically provide support for the creative energy already bubbling in our city, possibly leading to a boom in the arts and culture sector in Brampton, another important ingredient for economic growth. In the longer term, students who choose to live in Brampton after graduating will be generating a higher income and have more money to spend locally.
Through the leadership of Dr. Lachemi and partnership with the city, we will attract businesses around the world interested in the talent that Brampton has to offer.
“I was in Mumbai, and there, they are very excited about our project in Brampton. Last week I was in Dubai, talking about some collaboration, and people there mention to me, ‘I heard you are doing something in Brampton.’ Everyone is very positive about the project.”
Dr. Lachemi emphasizes Brampton’s unique geographical positioning within the innovation corridor of the GTA.
“Brampton is the connector between Waterloo and Toronto, and if you can have a university like Ryerson that is focused on innovation and entrepreneurship at the center of the corridor; with the creation of an innovation hub at the center, we can attract people from both sides. It’s like a magnet attracting talent and people from both sides.”
This is part of why the collaboration with Metrolinx is key. Local excitement within our city, across the GTA and abroad, matched with Ryerson’s entrepreneurial spirit and collaborative approach mean that people want to seize this opportunity.
The Board of Directors of Ryerson, a panel comprised of some of the top executives in Canada, including companies like Rogers, Brookfield, Canada Infrastructure Bank, and others, are inspired by the vision of a university of Brampton. “They are telling me to move faster. Go, go, go! That’s the message I am getting from them now,” Dr. Lachemi says.
The good news is that the land around the property owned by Metrolinx near the GO terminal in downtown Brampton is rumoured as the preferred location. The area is an ideal seeding ground for transformational change in the city. Studies show that the economic impact would be substantial.
According to a report issued by the Council of Ontario’s Universities in July 2017, “spending generated as a result of the activities of Ontario universities spurs regional economic and social development. It is responsible for the creation of 478,096 FTE [Full Time Equivalent] jobs and contributes $42.4 billion to Ontario’s GDP. But the impact of universities also goes well beyond the ripple effects of spending.”
In June 2016, Councillor Gurpreet Dhillon attempted to push a motion at Council for more job growth by highlighting the low and uncompetitive employment activity rate in the city at only 33%. After decades of residential development, it’s time to open the doors to business and employment opportunities for our residents. Ryerson will propel this.
New economic activity is expected in Brampton as soon as Ryerson begins developing and settling in. We will begin to shift revenue generated in the city – one that is currently relying on a heavy residential property tax base, to a more balanced structure that includes a healthier level of commercial and businesses in the city.
“Others have missed the opportunity,” says Dr. Lachemi. “Ryerson gets it.”
In our third and final article generated from our meeting, we will discuss Dr. Lachemi’s ideas on the unique programming that Ryerson will offer – another differentiating opportunity that will position Brampton as a world leader and specialist.
Photos by Shelby Morell.
Part I: Community collaboration to build a city – Click here.
Part II: Economic Benefits and the Innovation Hub – Click here.
Part III: Brampton as a world leader with specialized programming – Click here.