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UPDATE: Tech giant commits to $100 million investment in Toronto

Cisco will spend $100 million on a new research lab in downtown Toronto as it invests as much as $4 billion in Ontario over the next decade

Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly chats with Nitin Kawale, President of Cisco Canada
Photo: James Moore/NEWSTALK 1010

One of the world's largest IT companies is spending $100 million on a new research centre in the city's downtown core.

Cisco hopes to woo the best and brightest minds in the tech field to live, work, and play in Toronto.

The city will be Cisco's main hub for an expansion that will see it bring an estimated $4 billion to Ontario's economy over the next decade.

The company announced plans to build research and development facilities in December.

Toronto is one of only 4 locations in the world in which the company has committed its 'Internet of Everything' program.

The California-based firm, which is the world's largest maker of computer-networking equipment, says investment includes infrastructure, technology, staffing and operational costs at the Internet of Everything Innovation Centre.

Internet of Everything (IoE) refers to machine-to-machine (M2M), person-to-machine (P2M), and person-to-person (P2P) connections.

Such technology could be use to collect information from items like car sensors and medical devices for networked data bases.

Cisco estimates the industry will be worth $19 trillion by 2022, including $500 billion in Canada.

The Toronto centre will focus on helping startups, medium- to large-sized companies, industry and government with Canadian-based innovations and serve as Cisco's Canadian headquarters.

Other cities tapped for centres include Songdo, South Korea, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and a city in Germany, yet to be announced.

``Innovation Centres are a key pillar of our strategy to impact the productivity and innovation trajectory of Canada,'' said Nitin Kawale, president of Cisco Canada.

``The Internet of Everything is not only changing the world, but creating new opportunities. Connecting the unconnected has the potential to bring revolutionary change to industries, including: healthcare, education, municipalities, transportation and construction.''

This 'win' for Toronto would suggest Mayor Rob Ford's very public gaffes and scandals can be set aside when there's money on the line.

It was Toronto's Deputy Mayor who shook hands with the top executives at Cisco at a news conference on Wednesday.

Ford is nowhere to be found.

"The strength of the city trumps all of the other stuff that goes on on late-night shows," says Kelly, referring to the Mayor's recent guest appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Kelly gave credit to city councillor Michael Thompson, Chair of City Hall's Economic Development Committee, saying he was was key to closing the deal with Cisco.

As much $220 million in subsidies from the provincial government sweetened the agreement but Cisco's top executives say it could not have happened without help from Toronto City Hall.

"Its been a very positive experience throughout city hall ... its working very well," says chairman Paul Zed.

"With the vibrancy that we feel and see in Toronto, we feel that this is actually the place to go and I am convinced that this will be a hub of innovation and job creation," he adds.

Cisco Canada president Nitin Kawale was asked whether Ford's struggles gave the company second thoughts about investing in Toronto.  

He says it did not factor into the decision.

"Our decisions are based on a very long term view," Kawale says, "situations come and go - we're here for the long-term."

Mayor Ford feels he was snubbed.

He says it was his administration that created the business climate for Cisco to commit to the city.

"I'm the one who has made the environment for these businesses to come here," he says, "we have 150 cranes in the sky and we have the lowest tax rate - that was my hard work."

Ford has a point.

The company says Toronto's civic policies and tax structure are part of what makes the city a good fit.

On the other hand, Ford was shut out of the negotiation process because it was Queen's Park that put up the money for the subsidies.

Since the crack video scandal broke, the Premier's office has worked around the Mayor and only deals with Toronto's Deputy Mayor.

The research centre is expected to open in the Spring of 2015.

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  1. Peter posted on 03/05/2014 07:11 PM
    .

    Mayor Ford stated:
    "I'm the one who has made the environment for these businesses to come here," he says, "we have 150 cranes in the sky and we have the lowest tax rate - that was my hard work."

    Ford has a point., - You bet he has a point, And it won't be forgotten or obscured
    in the future.

    This is what will make Mayor Ford easily win his next term.

    .
    1. Pretzel posted on 03/06/2014 07:11 AM
      @Peter What point?

      If Rob Ford knew about Cisco considering of moving to Toronto, he would have been attended that meeting. The fact that Michael Thompson (a conservative councilor) didn't give Ford the heads up means Rob Ford didn't do the work, and wasn't willing to share the credit.
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