The lists of traded clusters for Toronto, when compared to the other major urban centres within the Central Zone, show considerable geographical variation in regional economic structures within the Central Zone. In Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge, Hamilton, and St. Catharines-Niagara, manufacturing-based clusters such as automotive, metals, and processed foods are prominent. Nevertheless, service-based clusters such as hospitality and tourism (in St. Catharines-Niagara), business services, and education also emerge as significant regional economic drivers.
In the GTA, the mix of traded clusters is also balanced between a wide range of services and manufacturing activities. Indeed, successive analyses of the Toronto economy have identified it as having a degree of sectoral balance and diversity that is virtually unmatched by any other major metropolitan area in North America.9
Nevertheless, this aggregate picture obscures important geographical variations within the GTA itself.10 The GTA "core" (the City of Toronto) is dominated by high-order, knowledge-intensive business, professional and financial services, and headquarter functions, along with cultural industries, such as media, and major postsecondary institutions of education and research.
On the other hand, the GTA "fringe" (the so-called 905 belt within the GTA) exhibits a mix of higher- and lower-order services (such as back-office functions in financial services, call centres, distribution services and warehousing, transportation and logistics), as well as larger, more land-intensive, assembly-type manufacturing operations requiring ready access to freeway and airport connections.
The more detailed cluster geography described above is confirmed by reviewing the data on major employers by municipality.11 These data are reported below for a representative sample of communities within the Central Zone, grouped according to the classification presented in the Introduction (see Tables 2 through 5).
Table 2: Major Traded-Cluster Employers in the GTA (including Oshawa)
Royal Bank of Canada
Bank of Montreal
University of Toronto
Table 3: Major Traded-Cluster Employers in Other Major Urban Regions
CMA and Cluster
National Steel Car
Hamilton Health Services*
St. Joseph's Hospital*
Research in Motion
University of Waterloo
Wilfrid Laurier University
Atlas Specialty Steels
*These employers represent traded activities to the extent that they (i) perform research and development activities, or (ii) provide specialized health services to a non-local population. Undoubtedly, some of the employment is associated with the provision of health care services to local markets (untraded activities).
Table 4: Major Traded-Cluster Employers in Smaller Cities
City and Cluster
University of Guelph
Table 5: Major Traded-Cluster Employers in Small Towns and Rural Areas
County and Cluster
Elcan Optical Technologies
Collins & Aikman
Kraft General Foods
Haldimand & Norfolk Counties
Lake Erie Steel
Sources: Office of the Greater Toronto Area, supplemented with information from company websites and recent newspaper stories.
The tables clearly show that, as one moves outward from the GTA and other major urban centres, into the smaller cities, towns, and rural areas, manufacturing becomes the dominant activity, especially in sectors such as automotive, metal manufacturing, electrical/electronics, and food/beverage production related to the local and regional agricultural base. For the most part, these kinds of activities tend to be stand-alone, strongly trucking-based, requiring highway-oriented facilities.