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The Toronto Region Board of Trade (the “Board”) is one of the largest chambers of commerce in North America and has been a business champion for over 175 years. The Board represents over 11,500 members and partners of all sectors and sizes from across the Toronto region, and acts as a catalyst connecting businesses with the right partners, tools and resources.
The Board’s vision is to make Toronto one of the most competitive and sought-after business regions in the world, and does so in three primary ways:
Advocacy: By representing business needs to all levels of government, the Board champions enablers for business success with an ambitious policy agenda backed by research and evidence.
Growth: The Board offers programs and resources to help businesses meet their goals, be it with trade, scaling up or digitally transforming their operations.
Networking: The Board introduces business leaders to each other, connects peers and helps people find mentors – all to the benefit of the overall business community.
Economic Blueprint Institute (EBI)
EBI is a strategic initiative of the Board, deriving data-driven insights that inform, guide and improve policy advocacy work on behalf of all Board members.
In March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic was declared, growth planning was immediately put on hold and the Board jumped to support businesses that were forced to shut down or saw a dramatic decline in revenues. Burchfield’s team began mapping the course of this immense economic disruption and searched for the best data provider to enable that work. “There are so many metrics to measure economic recovery against, but when it comes to timely, relevant data, we found no better indicator than consumer spending – and no better partner than Moneris® to provide it,” said Burchfield.
How has the Board been using Moneris data?
“We knew we needed to work with a data services unit that could provide not just robust data, but granular level data and that is when we chose to work with Moneris,” says Burchfield.
Data from Moneris was provided on a weekly basis throughout the pandemic. The continuous flow of data allowed the Board to tell a compelling story about the uneven economic impact of the pandemic on different business districts. It also greatly shaped the Board’s advocacy.
The Board has been the first to present this data to a committee of decision makers. Downtown data was compared to other business districts across the region. Compared to the other business districts, the devastating impact of the pandemic on consumer spending in the downtown area was clear. There was a stark difference between what was happening downtown and in business areas where essential services were located such as manufacturing or big box retail, for example.
“The data gave the Board an understanding of where members were in the region that we needed to focus our efforts on to support businesses,” says Burchfield. “Benchmarking consumer spending in different consumer districts allowed members to identify what their own spending habits were in relation to benchmarking,” says Burchfield. The data also helped the Board understand the decreases and increases in foot traffic in relation to workers versus visitors. The benchmarks also helped businesses tailor who their customers would be and helped them in terms of strategy with what to put on the shelves.
The Board believes in an even greater visitor economy for Toronto in the future with a need for a strategy to bring back major conferences and large business events that fueled Toronto’s economic success before the pandemic. Tracking the flow of visitors and their spending in the region, in particular, will be an important piece for recovering the visitor economy. There are many data services that Moneris provides that can help the Board do just that.
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