Economic Development

Episode 59: A Vision And A Subway: Surprising Recipe Brings KPMG Regional HQ to Vaughan, Ontario

Episode 59: A Vision And A Subway: Surprising Recipe Brings KPMG Regional HQ to Vaughan, Ontario

Might 29, 2019

KPMG is likely one of the “big four” accounting companies and has over 200,000 staff throughout the globe. The firm’s apply within the Larger Toronto Space was rising and wanted to find a new regional headquarters. On the similar time KPMG was on the lookout for a new headquarters, the town of Vaughan had a new Mayor who was targeted on building a new and vibrant central business district. To get the story, we spoke with Sebastian Distefano, regional managing associate of KPMG, and Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua, Vaughan’s mayor since 2010.

Andy Levine (DCI):  As we speak’s story takes place within the metropolis of Vaughan, Ontario. Just north of Toronto. With a inhabitants of about 300,000, Vaughan is likely one of the quickest rising cities within the Larger Toronto Area and Canada.

Endurance Fairbrother (DCI): Our corporate focus in the present day is on KPMG. KPMG is in fact one of many “big four” accounting companies and has over 200,000 staff. The agency’s follow within the Higher Toronto Space was growing and wanted to discover a new regional headquarters.

Andy: On the similar time KPMG was on the lookout for a new headquarters, the town of Vaughan had a brand new Mayor who was targeted on constructing a new and vibrant central enterprise district. And that’s the backdrop of as we speak’s story.

Andy: So welcome to episode 59 of “The Project: Inside Corporate Location Decisions.” I’m Andy Levine of Improvement Counsellors International.

Endurance: And I’m Endurance Fairbrother, additionally with DCI and Andy’s co-host of “The Project.”

So Andy, in the present day’s podcast takes us to Canada and the GTA.

Andy: That’s proper. And for our American listeners, GTA stands for Larger Toronto Space, not Grand Theft Auto.

Endurance: So Andy you did the interviewers behind immediately’s story. Tell us concerning the two people who have been interviewed.

Andy: The first is Sebastian Distefano, regional managing associate of KPMG for Higher Toronto Space. Sebastian has duty for managing 2,700 KPMG employees members within the region. He’s the highest canine in the region.

Our second interview is with Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua. Mayor Bevilacqua is a career politician who has held a variety of management roles in Canada’s federal government. However in 2010 he left Ottawa and returned to his residence within the metropolis of Vaughan to work on the local degree as Mayor. And creating a brand new central business district was a key priority for his new administration.

Endurance: We’re going to start with Andy’s interview with Sebastian Distefano of KPMG

Andy: I would like to return to when KPMG started to search for a brand new regional headquarters within the Toronto space. Can you just paint an image of what you have been making an attempt to obtain with that process?

Sebastian Distefano (KPMG): The town was changing and growing and we needed to be positioned to be in the correct market at the right time. And so we undertook a research with some advisors to actually perceive what our options seemed like. We also undertook a research to understand where our shoppers have been doing business and the place our individuals resided when it comes to where have been our individuals dwelling. Was there a development that we have been seeing?

So there was plenty of heavy lifting and work and evaluation carried out prior to that decision. And those can be, you understand, “Where was the city growing?” “Where were our clients?” and, “Where do our people reside?” and, “How easy would it be for them to commute?” have been key elements that we weighed heavily in our determination.

Andy: How did Vaughan first get on KPMGs radar display?

Sebastian: What actually put Vaughan on the map was the imaginative and prescient for the town. And the connection to the subway line was a huge differentiator for Vaughan versus a few of the other options we have been taking a look at. So that basically, in my mind, put Vaughan on the map. And then once you understood the imaginative and prescient that the town had and where they have been going to be, roll the clock ahead in 10, 15, 20 years, it really helped make the decision quite straightforward.

Endurance: So Andy, did I hear this proper? KPMG was attracted by a imaginative and prescient and a subway?

However let’s maintain this show shifting. What’s takeaway #2?

Andy: The brief reply is sure. And that’s a superb transition to our interview with Mayor Bevilacqua. Once I requested him what made Vaughan, Ontario totally different he spoke eloquently concerning the workforce, the tutorial establishments that surround it, the town’s new hospital, highway infrastructure and the collaborative spirit of the town – all issues that you simply’d anticipate from a metropolis’s mayor.  However his summary remark targeted on “the new subway.”

Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua (Metropolis of Vaughan): So what’s particular about our group above and beyond the good financial indicators, right, and the truth that we’ve, like, we’re the only municipality with a subway outdoors of the town of Toronto.

Endurance: So let’s return with a brief historical past lesson. In November, 2009, the official floor breaking ceremony was held for the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension which was to join Vaughan to the town of Toronto. Tunneling was started in 2011 and the venture was finally completed six years later in December 2017.

Andy: So utilizing the subway as a magnet, Mayor Bevilacqua and his staff sought to discover an anchor tenant for the brand new downtown district also called the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre.

Mayor Bevilacqua: Once you’re doing city constructing or if you’re constructing a downtown core, you all the time keep in mind the pioneers and KPMG was certainly a pioneer firm that believed in our city, a company that was prepared to make the investment and obviously serve the enterprise group here in the metropolis of Vaughan, a really vibrant and dynamic group at that. However actually, the essential factor was for us to get a foothold, how essential it was for us to have a robust presence by a robust firm with a world network.

Endurance: So the subway was the driving force. And it allowed Mayor Bevilacqua to present a broader vision for the town.

Mayor Bevilacqua: Nicely, pay attention, city building for me is a labor of affection and also you’ve received to nurture it, you got to look after it. You’ve obtained to all the time current your vision very clearly to the corporate that you really want to turn into a associate with. And I talked about partnerships in the broader sense. You don’t construct a city by yourself however as mayor my duty is to clearly current a imaginative and prescient, and I all the time say, and I enter into an train referred to as bringing the longer term to the present the place once I sit with individuals, I make them imagine what the longer term is going to seem like.

Endurance: KPMG bought into that imaginative and prescient.

Sebastian: We believed within the imaginative and prescient that was put forth for the town and we believed it was good for the broader GTA and our follow and our individuals and our shoppers. And so I feel it showed that KPMG shouldn’t be scared to make a daring move and be a pacesetter in an area that is just creating.

Andy: I asked Mayor Bevilacqua what it was like when KPMG finally announced their determination to convey their regional headquarters – and 785 jobs – to the City of Vaughan in a brand-new office tower.

Mayor Bevilacqua: Properly, it was, clearly, in many ways with out sounding too dramatic, nevertheless it was type of a dream come true. As a result of if you work for something for therefore long, and you really pour your heart into it and also you’re working with individuals who deeply care concerning the challenge. To be beneath the tent there with premier and members of the KPMG group and to lastly, signal to all the GTA, that we’re going to build this outstanding constructing and have these unimaginable companions was one of many highlights of my years as mayor.

Endurance: Other corporations have followed KPMG’s lead including PriceWaterhouseCoopers, one among KPMG’s prime rivals. We requested Sebastian about that current announcement.

Sebastian: You already know, I’m truly fairly completely happy that the world is getting further developed. And I’m pleased that our rivals are arising. I feel that further reinforces the choice we made was the fitting choice. And I might, you recognize, I’m pretty excited about what the event opportunities will create for our business. And so I truly see that as a really constructive development, a constructive move in the direction of this improvement persevering with and hopefully accelerating.

Endurance:  We’re going to give the final word to Mayor Bevilacqua and allow him to share some steerage for different communities.

Andy: For those who have been speaking at a convention of other mayor’s, mayor’s that maybe needed to, equally do one thing dramatic, like appeal to a serious company that turned an anchor tenant for a downtown initiative. What advice would you give them? What are a few of the lessons discovered that you simply’ve discovered the final eight years?

Mayor Bevilacqua: To begin with, you all the time have to play to your strengths. You might have to have a transparent imaginative and prescient. You will have to really do what I stated earlier, convey the longer term to the present. It’s an unimaginable envisioning exercise that is essential. For those who don’t know what you need and in case you don’t know where you want to go, it is apparent to both of us that you simply gained’t get there.

And be sure that individuals perceive that you are all in and that you simply’re going to be there for them. And actually, the pitch has to be partnership.

Endurance: Nicely, to start with, Andy, Nice job bringing “The Project” to the country of Canada for the first time. What have been a few of your key takeaways from this story?

Andy: This one was sort of totally different. So I feel the first thing was, you realize, infrastructure really, in this case, the brand new Subway, it was an attention grabber. It caught KPMG’s eye simply as they happened to be in search of a brand new headquarters and it just appeared to be a very good match.

Endurance: And I feel, Andy, this is in all probability the primary time we’ve seen infrastructure play such a central position in a narrative.

Andy: It’s true. Virtually every part we’ve been doing in the final six months has been expertise, expertise, expertise. It was kind of totally different to see this right here. The other aspect was…and it’s fascinating. The mayor talked about this primary and he talked about his imaginative and prescient and why the vision was essential, and I’d anticipate a mayor to speak about that however I heard exactly the identical phrases from KPMG. Saying that imaginative and prescient of Vaughan and what it was turning into was essential to them they usually needed to be part of that. So it was sort of eerie how the mayor’s phrases and the company government’s phrases, Sebastian’s words, kind of mirrored one another so precisely.

And finally, I feel it’s simply sort of cool that KPMG leads the best way. They’re the pioneer. Then they’re kind of shortly adopted by certainly one of their prime rivals, PricewaterhouseCoopers, who additionally says, “We’re also going to build a tower here in Vaughan.” And so in a brief amount of time, it’s actually been a exceptional success.

Endurance: So that may be a wrap on episode 59 of “The Project: Inside Corporate Location Decisions.”

Andy: We’d like to thank each Mayor Bevilacqua in addition to Sebastian Distefano for the prospect to interview them for the podcast. I’d additionally like to thank Michelle Samson. She’s the financial improvement officer for the town of Vaughan. She worked actually onerous to arrange these interviews. It wasn’t straightforward getting in each of their calendars nevertheless it was nicely well worth the wait.

Endurance: We’ve obtained some terrific tales arising within the weeks forward. In case you are a company government or an financial developer and have a advised episode for “The Project,” we’d love to hear from you. You’ll be able to reach me, the younger and hip co-host of the podcast, at [email protected]

Andy: And in the event you choose wisdom and depth over speaking with a flighty millennial, then you’ll be able to reach me at [email protected]

Endurance: Lastly, we would like to give a shoutout to our DCI colleague Intisar Wilson, who does all the mixing and production on “The Project.” Making the two of us sound good really isn’t straightforward and Intisar does an amazing job at it.

Andy: Thanks, Intisar. “The Project” is sponsored by DCI. We’re the chief in advertising locations and have served over 450 totally different cities, states, regions, and nations. You possibly can study more about us at