Collaboration: The competitive edge to economic growth for metropolitan regions

2016 Collaborate to Compete logo


By Ruby Gill, Communications and Marketing Advisor

What is Collaborate to Compete?

Regional collaboration is the key to staying competitive in the world economy of the future.

Collaborate to Compete is a Canada-based network of metropolitan regions generating knowledge and promoting regional collaboration to improve Canadian competitiveness.

The focus is to increase regional networks  across Canada and North America through shared experiences and best practices.


Fourth Annual Collaborate to Compete 2016

On June 2, 2016, Canada’s leading regional thinkers and forward-looking regional-plan adopters gathered in Winnipeg.

This year’s Collaborate to Compete focus was Metropolitan Regions: Driving the Global Economy

Attendees and speakers came from municipal governments, metro-regions, industry, transit organizations, and more. Their common interest? Regional collaboration as the path to the future.

Keep reading to learn more about the 2016 Collaborate to Compete.

Connectivity: The 21st century’s most important resource 

According to Colleen Shepherd, Executive Director of the Calgary Regional Partnership, a co-founder of Collaborate to Compete and a member of the Collaborate to Compete’s leadership team, “Collaboration will drive connectivity and there is an opportunity to start connecting better to compete in the global marketplace.”

Watch Colleen talk about staying in the game and driving the global economy:

Colleen Shepherd’s key takeaways presented a world where regional collaboration is an economic must.

According to Shepherd, collaboration is the new competition.

Collaboration matters because:

  • Collaborative metropolitan regions can drive economic growth and create jobs.
  • Collaboration between regions brings a new level of profit-making capability into play.
  • A new level of innovationa and profit making capability

What will be important to build the future:

  • All levels of government need to integrate transportation infrastructure and investment across the country.
  • Transportation networks are a public good, worth investing in.


Register now for the 2017 Collaborate to Compete in Ottawa, Ont. May 31 to June 1. If you are headed to FCM 2017, book your flight one day earlier and join us! Rooms are quickly filling up in Ottawa so hurry and book your room for your extra night stay on May 31st. We have secured a block of guestrooms at the Westin exclusively for the evening of May 31st. Should you already be a registered guest of the Westin Ottawa, please contact the hotel directly to extend your stay for this event. Hope to see you there!

Register for Collaborate to Compete 2017




Metro-regions talk effective regional economic development models 



Calgary Region’s Bob Miller: Effective Regional Economic Development

CRP's Bob MillerBob Miller is the Senior Manager of the Calgary Region Economic Development Alliance for the Calgary Regional Partnership. He focused on real-world examples of regional economic planning model paying off.

“We need to be thinking in a system. Not just as a region, or a collection of regions that make up a trade corridor. We need to be thinking about what we need to be producing and manufacturing. What does the other end of the boat in Asia want?”

  • Miller first touched on the successful negotiation that has opened up a crucial trade corridor between the Port of Prince Rupert and Southern Alberta.
  • The free movement of goods is crucial to trade. Regional planning is the key to keeping products and money moving. Opening this trade corridor means opening a door between Alberta and the Asian and Pacific markets.
  • Collaborative planning is what allows Alberta-grown grains to be sold on the Asian market.
  • Building an effective team: Miller’s dream team for an effective regional alliance involves:
    • municipalities
    • airport authorities
    • educational institutions
    • province
    • other regions and inland ports
    • national partners such as NASCO


Edmonton Region’s Glen Vanstone: Teamwork at the Speed of Business

Glen VGlen Vanstone, Vice President, Edmonton Economic Development, added that as the pace of business changes, the need for collaboration spikes.

 “It’s an entire team game now and not the individual EDO or the individual agency. Speed of business is accelerating and going faster and faster.”

“You need to have a broader spectrum of participants that can come ready when you need them, at the right time and at the right place.”


Vancouver’s Heather Deal: Experience Meets Innovation

Heather DealHeather Deal of the Metro Vancouver Board of Directors brought the experiences of a long-established metropolitan region to the table.

Lifestyle improvement is a crucial element of regional collaboration. This can only be achieved through agreements and collaboration at multiple levels of industry and government.

  1. Implementing safe regional transit systems that allow from inter and intra-regional travel, and serve a range of ages and professions.
  2. Ensuring family-size accommodations continue to be built to serve a lifestyle and workflow that benefits the community and the economy.


Toronto’s Michael Thompson: Branding and Industry

Michael ThompsonCouncillor for City of Toronto Michael Thompson, who is also Chair of the Economic Development Committee for the City of Toronto, made it clear that setting the right conditions is crucial for metro regional success.


  1. Local citizens must be made aware of what is happening on a metropolitan regional planning basis
  2. Brand as a metro region when going to international events.
  3. Harness power as a metro region.
  4. Encourage initiatives to be industry led, whenever possible. Then develop the mandate and tasks for the group to get the job done.
  5. Understand the results a metro region wants to achieve. Then build a blueprint for getting there.
  6. Look for tangible ways to support local businesses to compete at a global level.

Watch the entire panel discussion.


Setting conditions for prosperous and competitive regions

Watch Panel Moderator Mayor of City of Chestermere and Calgary Regional Partnership Vice-Chair Patricia Matthews discuss setting conditions:

Watch the entire panel discussion on Collaboration as a Modern Necessity: Setting Conditions for Prosperous and Competitive Regions.


Metro regional transportation networks for global competition

Truck transport container on the road to the port.

Transportation is the circulation system of a regional economy.

According to the panelist at Collaborate to Compete, success of transportation networks includes:

  • Leverage of tri-modal transportation assets
  • Cluster of infrastructure investment
  • Strong partnerships with the private sector, all levels of government and regional trade partners
  • Collaboration is necessary for trade corridors to work
  • Inland ports must collaborate with seaports and other inland ports
  • Inland ports decrease congestion at seaports, offer the opportunity for more building size, more supply of labour, lower total landed costs and improved speed to market
  • Inland ports will be an integral part of collaborative network economies

Watch the entire panel discussion on How to Build a Collaborative Regional Transportation Logistics Network to Compete Globally.


Strengthen continental collaboration 

Tiffany Melvin, the President of NASCO (North American Strategy for Competitiveness), was a keynote at this year’s conference. NASCO is a tri-national network of North American governments, businesses, and educational institutions, driven by a common interest in collaboration associated with commercial corridors and trade networks.

“If you, as a small or medium town or city, are not actively pursuing opportunities around the globe, you are going to get passed by the ones who are.”


Here, Melvin discusses the commitment required for regional collaboration to work:


6 key takeaways from Collaborate to Compete 2016  

Malcom Bruce, CEO of the Capital Region Board, Edmonton Region, and a member of the Collaborate to Compete Leadership team encapsulated the key lessons from the conference:

  1. Systems thinking is the future
  2. Connectivity is the key on a metro regional level
  3. Corridors allow for the efficient use of people, goods and services
  4. Collaboration means respecting and supporting municipal identities
  5. Strong leadership is needed for success
  6. Government support at all levels is required

Malcolm Bruce builds on his idea of modern connectivity here:


Colleen Sklar: Collaboration essential for Metro Regions

Colleen Sklar, Executive Director of the Partnership of the Manitoba Capital Region, discussed expanding market goals through regional thinking.

“(It) brings people together to look at how to market not only Canada, but also North America in a competitive global market.”

Watch Colleen Sklar discuss being competitive as regions on a global scale:


What’s next?

As Collaborate to Compete gains momentum, there are some tangible next steps that are already in motion:

  1. Develop an advocacy plan to inform federal, provincial and territorial governments on the value of Metropolitan Regions when competing on a global scale
  2. Work with all levels of government and industry to coordinate trade corridors and transportation infrastructure planning and investment to allow for ease of trade exports and imports across the country
  3. Continue the conversation: Reach out to Metropolitan Regions and industry across Canada who are currently not members of Collaborate to Compete.
  4. Generate more opportunities for Metropolitan Regions to meet together and share best practice
  5. Create opportunities to learn from more advanced regions from across the world
  6. Utilize the Collaborate to Compete website and social media to generate new ideas and stay connected

Are you looking to be a part of the conversation on driving the global economy? You can connect here.


Remember to register today for the 2017 Collaborate to Compete. If you are attending FCM 2017 come one day earlier and join us. 

Register for Collaborate to Compete 2017

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