Glen Grunwald's Board Blog

Archive of the blog of the former President and CEO of the Toronto Board of Trade.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Not Goodbye, But My Last Entry

This is going to be my last entry on this blog, as today is my last day on the job at the Toronto Board of Trade.

First, I want to repeat my thanks to everyone who has posted here, called and written in to the Board, stopped me on the street, etc. to wish me well in the future. Toronto is a great place with a lot of wonderful people - you've certainly been warm and friendly to me!

Second, I want to repeat that I'm going to continue to have my home here and commuting back regularly to spend time with my family. I also have some charitable work and other projects that I'm going to continue working on in Toronto, so I'll be around quite a bit. Look for the HoopDome, a multi-court public basketball facility, to open next Spring at Downsview Park in the centre of Toronto.

Third, don't worry about the Board of Trade - we've been around for 161 years (since before Confederation) and survived two World Wars, blackouts, outbreaks, recessions, depressions and a hurricane. The Board will carry right on being the voice of our business community and the champion of a competitive and vibrant city. I know our COO, Grant Humes, is a perfect choice for Interim President while a permanent replacement is found.

Finally, there have been a lot of questions about this blog and if it will continue. I'm glad to say that the answer is 'yes' - not as MY blog, but as a Board of Trade blog that will continue to offer you information, opinions and ideas about what's happening in Toronto and the business community. We have some amazing people volunteering and working here who have a lot to say, and this will be their home.

The brand-new Board Blog will be up and running by Monday, October 16 and you will be able to reach it at www.bot.com/blog. We're going to leave this site up for a while so that regular visitors can catch this message.

So, that's it. Thanks again to the people of Toronto, and the volunteers and staff at the Board of Trade, for supporting me in my efforts to give something back to a great city that has given so much to me. I'll always be proud of the Board and our accomplishments, and always be proud of our city.

See you around, Toronto!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Five Step Program

Toronto is a great place to do business and a great place to live, but ...

We've also got some serious challenges here and, unless we face them, there's a real risk that our great city will become a city in trouble.

Toronto has lost 100,000 jobs and 10,000 businesses in the last 15 years. Our tax base has shrunk, our traffic problems are getting worse, and our reputation as a clean and safe city isn't nearly as strong anymore.

So, what should be done?

This is a good time to talk about these challenges because we're right in the middle of a municipal election campaign. If we can get the candidates for City Council and the Mayor's office to address these topics on the campaign trail and, more importantly, to commit to action in the next term at City Hall, that would be a great start.

That's why we put out our 'Action Agenda' today - five steps that the next Mayor and City Council should take to help build a better city. Our Chair Becky McKinnon had a piece about it in the National Post this morning, and you can read the entire agenda on our website.

Just so I'm not teasing, here are the five key points:
  1. Reduce traffic congestion and improve transit and transportation systems in the next Council term.
  2. Improve Toronto’s business competitiveness in order to attract and retain employers and jobs.
  3. Enhance Toronto’s quality of life through investments targeted at building better communities.
  4. Operate municipal government in a more accountable, efficient and effective way, based on best practices drawn from the public and private sector.
  5. Establish clear benchmarks that measure success in key areas by results, not spending, and report on progress towards such benchmarks.

Obviously, the actual agenda goes into detail about each of these issues. The point is, we're trying to propose things that are good for both our quality of life and economy, because the two things are totally inseperable.

As Becky said in her piece, if Toronto can be a top choice for both business and residents, we all win.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Speaking of big moves ...

How about Jim Balsillie of RIM fame buying the Pittsburgh Penguins?

People are already talking about what he might do, including rumours of moving the team (one joker is suggesting the 'Hamilton BlackBerries').

It's just one more way the co-CEO of Research In Motion is making news these days. Just a few weeks ago, he was named Outstanding CEO of the Year by Financial Post Business magazine, and the papers have been full of stories about him taking the BlackBerry truly global by getting into places like China.

This is a guy on the move, and his success could be a huge help in raising people's awareness about the outstanding communications technology we develop here in Canada. This is the birthplace of both the telephone and the BlackBerry, after all.

Anyway, the great news for the Board of Trade and its members is that we've confirmed Mr. Balsillie to be the keynote speaker for our Annual Dinner next January 29!

[WARNING: SHAMELESS PLUG AHEAD] Tickets for our black tie event are now on sale and several hundred have already been sold, so don't wait too long -- you can e-mail events@bot.com or call 416 862 4500. Toronto Board of Trade members get a whopping 24% discount ...

So, now what?

First of all, a million thanks to all the people who have been wishing me well with their calls, e-mails, posts to this blog, etc. Everyone from the Mayor and the Premier to Board of Trade members and basketball fans have been saying really nice things, and I truly appreciate it. This is a class town!

Second, a lot of you have been asking what's going to happen to this blog. Well, I think it's very important for the Board of Trade to keep up this method of reaching directly to people, giving you interesting (I hope) viewpoints and information -- so, I'm glad to say that there will be an ongoing blog from the Board perspective.

You will be able to reach it through www.bot.com/blog (right now, that link points back here). It's going to have posts from all sorts of people at the Board who can pass on useful links, fascinating stories, inside information on things happening in the business and political worlds of Toronto, etc.

As for what I'm going to do on a personal blog level, I'm not sure yet. I'm still President and CEO of the Toronto Board of Trade until October 12, so any talk of things I'm going to do in the future will have to wait until after that.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Yes, it's true ...

I announced today that I’ve accepted a front office job with the New York Knicks.

Believe me, this was not an easy decision. Among other things, I have had a really rewarding and fulfilling time here at the Board of Trade. It’s not often in life that you get to do a job where you know you are contributing to something so important.

However, I just could not pass up this opportunity to get back to the sport that I love and to rejoin my old friend Isiah Thomas in the NBA.

I’m very proud to have been involved in the Board and to have worked with such outstanding volunteers, business leaders and dedicated staff. They’re really great people and I’m going to miss working with them.

Most of all, I’m proud of the progress we made together in helping make Toronto a better place to live, work, invest and raise a family.

We’re still working out details of the transition. I’m not sure what’s going to happen to this blog, but I think the Board of Trade will be doing something like this in the future.

I know that the Board of Trade is going to keep doing great things after I’m gone – heck, I’ve only been here for two of the 161 years that the organization’s been around! – and I wish the Board and my successor nothing but great success in the future.

Finally, I want to thank all of the people in Toronto who have made my role at the Board of Trade so enjoyable -- the supportive notes and phone calls, people stopping me on the street to chat, even people like the Mayor and Premier giving me an opportunity to help make a difference.

As I've said before, there are a lot of good reasons for me to love this place and I’m not going to be cutting my ties here. I will still have my house and family here (my wife’s in her first year of law school and my son Gabe is playing on Stouffville Clippers hockey team – undefeated, by the way!). I’m still involved in projects like HoopDome at Downsview Park. So, I’ll be commuting regularly.

Toronto is a great city and while I have to say goodbye to the Board of Trade, I’m not about to let go of my adopted hometown.