Heads up: An exciting new initiative is offering opportunities in your neighbourhood

Photo provided by United Way Greater Toronto 

Golden Mile residents and business owners: The Inclusive Local Economic Opportunity Initiative (ILEO) is a project in your neighbourhood that is connecting residents of the Greater Golden Mile with exciting opportunities.

It’s a project about hope – and about taking concrete action through job training, employment opportunities, buying local products, and supporting local businesses in a rapidly changing area and more.

What does this mean?

It means ILEO is harnessing economic opportunity — at the neighbourhood level. The Greater Golden Mile is set both economically and socially to experience a major transition — and soon. A series of large redevelopments planned in Toronto will soon be changing the face of the neighbourhood, bringing more than 35,000 proposed residential units to the area in 75 high- and mid-rise buildings. What’s more, three nearby transit lines are also under construction.

This, in combination with a demonstrated need in the community, are the reasons United Way Greater Toronto and its co-convenor on this project, BMO Financial Group, selected this area as the first to launch ILEO, ensuring that residents and local businesses benefit from the change that’s in the air.

“We’re committed to the Golden Mile,” said United Way President and CEO Daniele Zanotti. “ILEO is a demonstration of what we can do when we partner together in a united way to ensure everyone in the neighbourhood has a chance at a better life, and economic prosperity for all.”

ILEO includes five pilot projects for residents of the postal codes M4A, M3C, M1L, M1K and M1J. Each project takes action on a priority identified by local residents — good jobs, building community ownership and affordable housing — and connects them with opportunities.

How ILEO is connecting local residents and businesses with economic opportunities

The pilot projects include:

1. Aecon Golden Mile (A-GM) Joint Venture 

Are you interested in a career in the building trades and construction industry? 

A-GM is a new joint construction venture, that recruits, trains and hires workers from the Greater Golden Mile. Forty-nine per cent of the project is owned by Aecon, one of Canada’s leading construction companies. The other 51 per cent is owned by the Centre for Economic Opportunity, a nonprofit created by 10 community organizations in the neighbourhood. Profits generated from the venture will be invested back into the community.

2. ILEO Good Jobs

Are you looking for a job? Do you live in the Greater Golden Mile? 

This free program can help you connect with a high-quality, full-time job that pays a living wage.

3. Inclusive Procurement

This initiative helps connect small and medium-sized suppliers in your area to large corporate partners to buy your products.

4. ILEO Storefront Starter

Do you have a business idea you want to take to the next level? 

This free program is for you. The ILEO Storefront Starter Golden Mile helps new and aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners launch your business ideas.

5. Destination Golden Mile

With the Greater Golden Mile set to grow in the coming years, ILEO is working with partners across sectors to explore ways to deliver more affordable housing. United Way Greater Toronto and BMO Financial Group are dedicated to making sure ILEO’s programs accurately reflect the community’s wants and needs. More than 150 local residents and small business owners have already benefited from them. Focusing on different aspects of inclusive economic opportunity, these pilot programs are tailor-made to respond to the strengths, needs, and desires of residents in the Greater Golden Mile. The hope is that the initiative will be rolled out to other areas of Toronto.

“We’ve got something here that is a wonderful community solution, that may be scaled to other communities as well,” Zanotti said. “This could act as a blueprint for other neighbourhoods going through transformation and gentrification across the GTA.”

Olivia Chow, shown at a community event in 2022, expressed her support for ILEO. (Ireland Fidale/Toronto Observer)

That’s an idea that excites Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow, who supports how ILEO is connecting neighbourhood residents with new prospects.

“In the city of Toronto, we are a city of neighbourhoods. Local economic development that benefits the businesses and residents, creates good jobs, good training, and more housing, is exactly what I want to see across the city,” she said. “Thank you, to the United Way, for making it happen.”

ILEO is already catching people’s attention because of its innovative approach to supporting the community. The Urban Economy Forum, an international nonprofit organization, recently recognized it as one of Canada’s frontrunner initiatives for Urban Sustainable Development Goals.

Read on for answers to your questions and details of the pilot programs, plus how you can get involved.

“Thank you, to the United Way, for making it happen.”

—Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow

This story was produced as part of a partnership between Centennial College journalism students and the United Way Greater Toronto.

About this article

Posted: Mar 25 2024 1:07 pm
Filed under: Business Community work