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Civic org Toronto Homecoming launches campaign to lure expat talent back to the GTA

A group called Toronto Homecoming (see Yonge Street's feature from January 2010) is accepting applications from talented Torontonians who've moved away in an attempt to lure them back home. Those who qualify will attend a conference held June 9-12 that will showcase what Toronto has to offer and put them in touch with large firms firms and headhunters looking to hire executive talent.

This is the second annual Toronto Homecoming conference -- last year's attracted 40 Torontonians back to the city, according to organizers.

Toronto Homecoming co-chair Eva Wong Scanlon said that the genesis was a desire to help build on Toronto's recent economic growth. "Many organizations are trying to improve the economy by attracting corporations here, but we also realized that high-level talent is important to driving growth, so we came down on the personal side, to attract professionals." The organization's research shows that a significant number of Toronto's most talented and promising professionals leave the city to seek employment opportunities elsewhere.

The event is sponsored by the Toronto CivicAction Alliance (formerly the Toronto City Summit Alliance), a group devoted to fostering growth and innovation in the city, headed by prominent politician, business executive and radio host John Tory. In a statement, Tory said that he had met some of the participants at last year's conference. "This event meets a real need in the city by connecting talented individuals with great jobs in the region."

Wong Scanlon says that in the past decade, Toronto has developed a more global outlook that would value the foreign experience of its expatriates, and the conference will help dispell uncertainties by introducing professionals directly to potential employers.

Applications to attend the conference can be filed by early to mid-career "thought leaders" and executives at the organization's website.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Eva Wong Scanlon, Toronto Homecoming

Transportation giant Thales Canada among three orgs recognized for leveraging immigrant talent

Michael MacKenzie, the COO of Transportation for Thales Canada's Toronto Transportation unit says that Toronto's diversity has been a strength for his company. "Having employees of international origin who can speak the language and understand the culture of our customers in regions such as China, Korea or Turkey, for instance, has greatly aided our ability to meet our project obligations, which leads to continued growth."

For exactly that type of business acumen, MacKenzie's Thales Canada Transportation was awarded the RBC Immigrant Advantage Award at the recent Immigrant Success Awards presented by the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council. In the award's citation, TRIEC says that Thales "systematically targets and cultivates internationally-trained professionals to ensure its position as a leader in transportation systems worldwide," and notes the company's 95 per cent retention rate of skilled immigrant employees.

Other Immigrant Success award winners announced last week were the Toronto Foundation for Student Success, Deloitte and Nancy Steele of American Express Technologies.

The awards recognize companies, non-profits and individuals who demonstrate exemplary practices at integrating skilled immigrants into the Toronto region. "Over five years we've seen a notable uptake and sophistication of recruitment and retention strategies. Employers are now realizing the benefits of a more diverse, globally aware and connected workforce," TRIEC executive director Elizabeth McIssac said in announcing this year's fifth annual awards. "IS Award winners are real examples of the benefits that can come from mobilizing the best and brightest in our city."

Writer: Edward Keenan
Sources: Julia Howell for TRIEC, Roger Fradgley, Thales Group

8 GTA cultural orgs get over $2.76 million to build diversity infrastructure

In a move that provincial Minister of Tourism and Culture says will help the province's "diverse cultural communities" and contribute to the economic development of the province, his government has given grants totalling slightly more than $2.76 million to eight Greater Toronto Area cultural organizations.

The grants are part of the province's Community Capital Fund, administered by the Trilium Foundation, which is a $50 million pool of grants specifically designed to help non-profit organizations who serve "diverse cultural communities." According to a spokesperson, the funding is explicitly designed to stimulate the economy and create jobs.

This round of grants go to the following GTA groups:

Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention: $49,600 to renovate its Financial District office

Catholic Family Services Peel Dufferin: $310,400 to retrofit its Brampton location to begin offering services to abused families in 12 languages as well as specialized services for South Asians

Dejinta Beesha Somali Multi Service Centre: $409,100 for a designated office and programming space in Rexdale

J.H. Chinese Professionals Association of Canada: $342,200 for classroom and counselling space for its programs serving skilled foreign-trained professionals

Parya Trillium Foundation: $439,200 to transform its Markham office building into a community service centre for the region's Farsi-speaking community

Sampradaya Dance Creations:
$233,800 for the South Asian dance company to expand its performance and training space in Mississauga

Sanatan Mandir Cultural Centre: $500,000 to build an addition onto its Markham community centre serving the Hindu and Indian communities (read more details in our Development News section here)

The Church of the Virgin Mary and Saint Athanasius
: $500,000 to build a recreation and wellness centre for Arabic speaking seniors in Dufferin County

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Alexis Mantell, Ontario Trillium Foundation

Green Mantra Recycling turns waste plastic into sellable wax, wins cleantech award

At the recent CIX conference, Green Mantra Recycling Technologies was honoured as Canada's Hottest Innovative Company in the CleanTech sector. That's high praise, but to those who have long followed the recycling industry, it will appear completely justified.

Green Mantra has developed a proprietary technology that can recycle products such as plastic bags and bottles -- they've long been thorns in the side of recyclers because plastics are made of different compounds that cannot be recycled together -- and turns them into waxes and greases. The products are commercial quality and can be sold for uses such as industrial lubricants, car and floor waxes and candles. The process produces no greenhouse gases.

Founded by Indian-born Pushkar Kumar, the company is currently headquartered at MaRS. "I bring a unique international perspective to GreenMantra -- having grown in Indian business environment, I have an acumen to successfully run operations in cost effective manner," Kumar writes in his profile. A graduate of the Richard Ivey School of Business, he says that, "Canada is my new home and I want to work towards improving the place."

The company's business model sees municipal recycling stores (through which less than 5% of plastics currently wind up recycled) as a resource for materials to supply a manufacturing business that sells wax on the market to manufacturers of consumer and industrial products.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Pushkar Kumar, Founder and CEO, Green Mantra Recycling Technologies

Toronto-based Pink Martini sends spring collection to 700 stores, launches new logo + blog

Israeli-born, Vancouver-raised fashion designer Amir Bahar moved to Toronto and founded his label Pink Martini Collection in 2006, a distinctly Canadian label, the company says, that combines its founders love of vintage fashion and his passion for travel.

At home as a child, Bahar learned the business from his father, a textile producer and distributor. When he originally got into fashion, he travelled frequently as an importer, looking for hip-hop inspired fashions from Europe and Asia. Eventually he decided to create his own label.  Four years after its founding, the company's designs are available on retail racks at over 700 locations across North America.

According to Zoe Mills, the PR and Marketing Manager for Pink Martini Collection, the company wants to connect more closely with Toronto consumers, and to do so launched a new logo, website and blog this month to go along with its new Spring 2011 women's wear collection.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Zoe Mills, Pink Martini Collection

Conference will explore the diversity of "Workplace 3.0"

In multicultural Toronto, there's a growing awareness that an ethnically and culturally diverse workforce is a key asset to doing business in the global economy, but as the frequently cited high number of skilled immigrants whose talents are underutilized demonstrates, not every business yet understands how to fully exploit the human resource riches found in Toronto's pool of skilled immigrants.

A study of 168 skilled immigrants and 20 Toronto employers released last week by the Progress Career Planning Institute indicated some keys: for internationally educated professionals, the study concludes, becoming "more Canadian" by focussing on language and communication skills is pivotal; for employers, mentoring new hires on the workplace and Canadian culture is important.

A day-long conference to be held this week (January 20) at the Toronto Board of Trade will explore the subject for the benefit of human resource leaders from corporate Canada. Entitled "Building Workplace 3.0" and presented by CIBC and Skills for Change, the conference features a keynote speech by John Tory and speeches and breakout sessions on subjects such as "Competency based hiring" and " Canadian experience vs. Technical experience."

Registration for the event is $195. See the [email protected] website for more information.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Sources: Amanda Galbraith, on behalf of Progress Career Planning Institute; Judy Csillag, Skills for Change

Korean-born Jeffrey Min expands Galleria grocery chain, creating 120 jobs, wins New Pioneer Award

Korean-born busniessman Jeffrey B.H. Min founded his first Galleria Korean supermarket in North York in 2003, which now (moved a block north into Vaughan) employs 120 people, and in November of last year opened a second location at Don Mills and York Mills, which created 120 new jobs. Between those milestones, Min has earned plenty of recognition: Grocer of the Year awards from the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers in 2009 and 2010, a Business Leader of Character Community Award in 2007 and the Ontario Newcomer Champion Award in 2008.

Min gets still more much-deserved recognition this spring, when he'll be awarded a New Pioneer Award for entrepreneurship from Skills for Change at a ceremony this March. The awards, known as the "Oscars of diversity," have been given out annually for the past 19 years to recognize the phenomenal achievements of Canadian newcomers in a variety of fields.

In their award citation, Skills for Change notes that Min overcame his initial lack of English to learn the Canadian business culture and create a bridge between Korean and Canadian markets. In addition to his supermarkets themselves, Min has created a Korean importing business and launched his own brand of Korean food products; innovated in the grocery business by developing a customer service management system that connects customers directly to suppliers in Korea, a real-time sales reporting system, and an inventory control system that links his stores directly to his warehouse.

Min is also active in community service, both for his employees who benefit from language and cultural training programs, and to the broader community, who have access to Galleria events spaces for community events.

The Skills for Change New Pioneer Awards take place on March 3 at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel. See their website for more information.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Jessette Nepomuceno, Skills for Change

Savvica is based in Toronto and is booming in India, hiring 2 now

Savvica, founded and headquartered in Liberty Village in Toronto, is India's largest educational marketing and recruitment services company. Unpacking that sentence and the story behind teaches some lessons in how to succeed in the global technology market.

According to a history told on StartupNorth, the company was originally founded by Malgosia Green in Toronto in 2004, but was shelved when she took a job in San Francisco in 2006. However, she and her husband and co-founder John "kept burning a little midnight oil, still looking for a deal or an opportunity, and most of all, they kept their dream alive." In 2007, an India-based e-learning company provided investment to expand the company, and Green located the Savvica office right back here in Toronto.

Just over three years later, Green is the CEO of what has become a giant in the Indian educational marketing and recruiting industry, operating the student web hubs learnhub.com, studyplaces.com and jumbotest.com. In the words of the company, they offer marketers and recruiters "unique access to students in India and other countries." As their web list of clients shows, their dominance in India is not a limit to their reach -- since their core service is study abroad information, they provide services to hundreds of colleges in Canada, the US, the UK and in other countries.

What's more, Savvica is expanding now, hiring two developers in Toronto. (If you're reading this from afar, they are hiring a VP to work in their India office, too).

Writer: Edward Keenan
Sources: Malgosia Green, Savvica; startupnorth.com

After helping 5,300 newcomers in six years, TRIEC welcomes Scotiabank as new corporate sponsor

Through its Mentoring Partnership program, the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC) has helped more than 5,300 skilled immigrants in Toronto get closer to meaningful employment since 2004. Last year, it announced it would work collaboratively with local  professional immigrant networks to establish learning exchanges, an online learning platform, and a professional and social network for members, employers and other community members.

That effort got a major boost earlier this month when Scotiabank came on board as a corporate sponsor of the program. Scotiabank VP of Multicultural Banking Ahmad Dajani said the bank makes helping newcomers a priority. "Our sponsorship of TRIEC's Professional Immigrant Networks initiative is a natural extension of our focus on ... programs and services that will help newcomers get a head start."  Dajani says the program will help give newcomers the "tools they need to build their lives in Canada."

Both the provincial and federal governments recently recognized TRIEC's Mentoring Partnership for its impact on the employment picture for immigrants. Ontario Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Eric Hoskins also gave credit to Scotiabank for its sponsorship, saying "we welcome the leadership role Scotiabank is taking with ... supporting newcomers' success in joining the workforce." Federal MP Bob Dechert, on behalf of the federal Citizenship and Immigration ministry said, "The programs provided by TRIEC are instrumental in helping immigrants succeed in the Canadian economy."

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: TRIEC

York University gets $150K for student exchange project

A York University project to give Canadian, American and Mexican social science students a continental perspective on migration and immigrant integration has received funding from the federal government. Last month, HRSD Canada announced $152,680 in support of the project, entitled, Migration Studies Initiatives to Promote Curricular Development and a North American Community.

"Under this program and the broader International Academic Mobility initiative, students will be better prepared for the workforce and exposed to different ideas and new techniques within their fields of study," said federal Minister if Finance Jim Flaherty in his announcement of the grant. "This kind of collaboration will deliver important contributions to Canadian training and development and will make Canada more globally competitive."

The money is granted under the government's Program for North American Mobility in Higher Education, founded in 1995, which funds exchanges and cooperation between university students across North America.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Michelle Bakos, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Christie Ossington Neighbourhood Centre hiring 16 youth now

The Christie Ossington Neighbourhood Centre, a non-profit agency that serves its community through programs to help low-income and vulnerable people, is currently hiring 16 youth aged 16-30 for a variety of positions ranging from junior marketing assitant to culinary arts worker to junior fashion designer.

The positions are full-time 24-week contracts, funded by Service Canada to help youth who face barriers to the job market, and are especially suitable for youth who have not completed high school, according to program worker Irfan Ali, although all youth are welcome to apply.

The hiring is being done through the agency's youth program "The L.O.F.T.", which aims to give local youth -- especially immigrant, aboriginal, low-income and others who are at-risk -- job skills development opportunities while engaging them as citizens in the development of their own community. Lynn Daly, Executive Director of the Centre, said upon accepting Service Canada funding this summer that this program would be "life changing" for participants, noting that Toronto has the "highest high-school dropout rates in the Greater Toronto Area."

These hiring announcements follow an earlier six job postings also funded by Service Canada -- those employees were scheduled to begin starting work this month.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Sources: Irfan Ali, Christie Ossington Neighbourhood Centre; Michelle Bakos, Press Secretary, Office of Minister Diane Finley

Vive Nano anticipates explosive growth in India for innovative nano clean tech

In January of this year, Yonge Street's Piali Roy wrote about Discovery District-based startup Vive Nano, a nanotechnology firm specializing in clean technology, especially crop protection and water and soil sanitation. At the time, company executives said they expected India to be an important market for them.

Since then, things have been rolling along smoothly for the company. Last month, it was recognized in the Canada's Top 10 Competition as among the best companies to invest in in the country. The recognition might well lead to significant capital, as previous companies on the list have secured over $600 million in financing, according to contest organizers. All winners participate in a series of investment forums in the U.S., where they are connected with American venture capitalists.

About a month earlier, Vive Nano announced that its pilot plant had started producing nanoparticles for sale in large volume.

And Vive Nano advisor Hari Venkatacharya noted recently in the Globe and Mail that the company's India strategy is beginning to pay off, as it has now signed two Indian partners to help develop two of its technologies -- a coating to make solar panels more efficient and a next-generation water treatment technology. Vankatacharya writes that for the company, "tremendous growth is anticipated in the next two to three years."

Founded in 2005 as a U of T spinoff, Vive Nano currently operates two labs in Toronto and employs a staff of 18. Fittingly for a company with global ambitions, two-thirds of the staff are immigrants to Canada.

Writer: Edward Keean
Sources: Hari Venkatacharya (via Globe and Mail); Vanessa Caldwell, MaRS blog; Flavio Campagnaro, Vive Nano 

$750 million in revenue makes Solutions 2 Go's founder Canada's top women entrepreneur

Since its founding in 2004, Mississauga-based Solutions 2 Go has grown into the largest video-game distributor in North America. Last year brought in more than $750 million in revenue (representing 177% growth in the past three years), supplying retailers across the country with products from almost every major gaming manufacture.

Those staggering numbers earned founder, COO and President Gabrielle Chevalier the title of Canada's Top Woman Entrepreneur from Profit magazine last month.  But Chevalier told the magazine she's not prepared to slow down. "I see us as a billion-dollar company. It's a nice, round number." Chevalier said that she expects modest growth as the video game industry continues to expand, but also plans to expand into distribution of other products.

The company has grown from 15 to 180 employees since 2004 (earning it a place on the Profit 100 fastest growing companies list, too).

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Louise Leger, Profit Magazine

Organization seeks nominations of diverse employers for Immigrant Success Awards

Zabeen Hirji, the chief human resources officer of RBC, says that those companies whose employees reflect the diversity of Canada see an advantage in the market. "The more employers tap the full range of capabilities of our workforce -- to innovate and adapt, develop new markets and foster new relationships -- the more competitive Canada will be in the global economy and the more prosperous we will be at home." That's why, Hirji says, RBC has been proud to sponsor the Immigrant Success Awards for its five years in operation.

The IS Awards recently issued a call for nominations for the fifth annual awards to celebrate employers who bring innovation and leadership to employing a diverse workforce. Applications in four categories can be submitted online by December 1.

"IS Award Winners have adapted to Toronto's diversifying workforce and are leaders in their industry, and we believe these two traits are more than a coincidence," Elizabeth McIssac, executive director of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council -- which operates the awards -- said. "Of the 70,000 small, medium and large businesses in Toronto, we know there are other innovative employers and individuals, and we want to celebrate their success."

Past winners include Xerox Research Centre of Canada, George Brown College, CIBC and others -- 20 in total.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Claire DeVeale-Blane, TRIEC

Two leading mayoral candidates endorse local accessibility software for City use

As the election campaign comes to a close, the two candidates for mayor who have been leading in the polls have both endorsed a local software solution to make the city's website more accessible to those with disabilities.

An announcement by Riverdale-based eSSENTIAL Accessibility heralds commitments by George Smitherman and Rob Ford to make www.toronto.ca accessible to those with disabilities -- users who have trouble typing or moving a mouse or reading a screen, for instance. Both candidates display the company's blue wheelchair-and-computer logo on their campaign websites, and both claim a commitment to extending a policy of e-accessibility to city communications.

"The disability community wants to elect a mayor who understands and responds to their un-met online needs," says Spiro Papathanasakis, Director eSSENTIAL Accessibility Inc.  "The two leading candidates have demonstrated their commitment to digital inclusion and e-participation in the election process, which means Toronto will soon see the elimination of barriers to online government services that many disabled residents face."

The company provides a button that is a turnkey solution for website operators. When users with disabilities click on it, it allows them to download the assisted-browsing services they require to properly interact with the site. According a release, "As the first mayoral candidates in the world to embrace this technology, Ford and Smitherman are participating in an Online Social ResponsAbility initiative sponsored by March of Dimes Canada.  Their Toronto will be an e-City that institutionalizes these practices to achieve top rank on the global stage."

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Spiro Papathanasakis, Director, eSSENTIAL Accessibility

47 diversity Articles | Page: | Show All
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