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It is tempting to write off the Team Toronto trip to Chicago as one of those pleasant but essentially useless junkets that Rob Ford used to deplore before he became mayor.

The agenda is decidedly light. A breakfast and panel discussion. The signing of a symbolic reaffirmation of a 20-year-old partnership agreement between Toronto and Chicago. A luncheon speech by the U.S. ambassador to Canada. A tour of the waterfront and of Chicago's renowned modernist architecture. A visit to a sports stadium. Bada bing, bada boom. Mayor Ford and his delegation of businessmen and city officials pack most of it into one day – Wednesday – and then most scuttle back home.

But those who are involved say it's worthwhile all the same. "I think first and foremost it's a great opportunity for Toronto to put its brand out there and build profile in the Chicago business community and leverage Toronto's voice into the Chicago conversation," says Carol Wilding, president of the Toronto Board of Trade.

Toronto and Chicago, she and others note, are similar sized cities with a lot to learn from each other. She, for example, is eager to know more about Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's plan to set up a Chicago Infrastructure Trust, courting private investment in the city's crumbling highways, bridges, sewers and transit system.

Robert Deluce, president of Porter Airlines, says that although no one expects any big business deals to be signed, "just the cross-pollination, the connections that are made, are bound to lead to opportunities on both sides of the border."

Even the boat ride could give people ideas, he says. "There is a lot on inspiration that one can take from seeing a city like Chicago."

In other words, travel can be broadening. "It is a good thing that our mayor gets exposed to something," says Richard Florida, who studies cities and wrote The Rise of the Creative Class, though he thinks Mr. Ford may suffer in comparison to the dynamic Mr. Emanuel, a former chief of staff to President Barack Obama. (Mr. Florida is not a member of the delegation.)

Mayor Ford himself says the purpose of the trip is to build investment and business ties between the two cities. In a statement on Monday he said that "We are taking an all-star team from Toronto's business community with us to Chicago. Their talents, experience and insight will help us to maximize the opportunities and relationships we will be creating and building upon this week."

That team includes more than 60 business delegates, including former premiers Mike Harris and Ernie Eves and former federal finance minister Michael Wilson. Co-chairing the team along with Mr. Deluce is George Cohon, founder of McDonald's Canada.

No less than eight city councillors are going, most of them close allies of the mayor. Among them are budget chief Mike Del Grande and the mayor's brother, Etobicoke councillor Doug Ford. The Fords have a branch of their family labels and tags business in Chicago.

Business delegates :

  • George Cohon, Founder, McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada – Mission Co-Chair
  • Robert Deluce, President, Porter Airlines – Mission Co-Chair
  • Wayne Barwise, Executive Vice President, Development, The Cadillac Fairview Corporation
  • Jamie Besner, Principal, Sussex Strategy Group
  • Courtney Betty, Attorney, Miller Canfield Law Firm
  • William Brereton, Managing Director, Newport Private Wealth Inc.
  • Paul Brown, Chairman of the Board, Enwave
  • Richard Byers, Executive Vice President, Borealis Infrastructure
  • Judi Cohen, Director Business Development and Marketing, Metrolinx
  • Clare Copeland, Chairman, Toronto Hydro
  • Matthew Corrin, Founder and CEO, Freshii
  • Emlyn David, Managing Partner, Clean Energy Developments
  • Paul Deegan, Vice-President, Government & Public Relations, BMO Financial Group
  • Betty K. DeVita, President, MasterCard
  • Renato Discenza, President and CEO, Invest Toronto
  • Nick Di Donato, President and CEO, Liberty Entertainment Group
  • Clifford Eby, President, Americas Transportation, Parsons Brinckerhoff
  • Janet Ecker, President and CEO, Toronto Financial Services Alliance
  • Tania Ensor, Senior Vice-President, Golin Harris
  • Ernest Eves, Former Premier of Ontario, Natel Strategies International Inc.
  • Keith Ford, Account Executive, Electronic Recycling Services
  • Jim Ginou, President, Art Printing Co.
  • Murray Goldman, President and Chairman, The Goldman Group
  • Mike Harris, Former Premier of Ontario, Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP
  • Elizabeth Geleff, Principal, Phillips Properties
  • Mary Gendron, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Celestica
  • David Gerofsky, President and CEO, First Gulf Corporation
  • Rob Godfrey, Executive Vice President, Qwatro Corporation
  • Paul A. Golini, Chairman of the Board, Empire Communities
  • Graham Henderson, President, Music Canada
  • E. M. Blake Hutcheson, President and CEO, Oxford Properties Group
  • Mike Kessel, President and CEO, Cleveland Clinic Canada
  • Thomas Kloet, CEO, TMX Group
  • Michael Kraljevic, President and CEO, Toronto Portlands Company
  • Stephen Kuhr, Principal Consultant, Parsons Brinckerhoff
  • David Kusturin, COO, Waterfront Toronto
  • Tony Lamantia, Assistant Deputy Minister, Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation
  • Ralph Lean, Partner, Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP
  • Barry Leon, Head, International Arbitration Group, Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall LLP
  • John Paul Macdonald, Senior Vice President, HR and Public Affairs, Bombardier Inc.
  • Ian MacEachern, Vice-President, Government and Stakeholder Relations, OMERS Administration Corporation
  • John Mandarino, Director, LIUNA Canadian Tri-Fund
  • Gaurav Marwaha, Managing Director, Head of Financial Institutions and Public Sector, Citibank Canada
  • Shaun McKaigue, Vice-President, Fer-Pal Construction Ltd.
  • Mark McQueen, President and CEO, Wellington Financial LP
  • Blair Murdoch, President, Allvision Canada
  • Terry Nemeth, Vice-President, Telus
  • Anthony Primerano, Director of Government Relations, LIUNA Canadian Tri-Fund
  • Jeffrey Remedios, Co-Founder, Arts & Crafts Productions
  • Mark Romoff, President and CEO, The Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships
  • John Rothschild, President and CEO, Prime Restaurants Inc.
  • Lorne Saltman, Partner, Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP
  • Kevin Smith, Senior Partner, Vigorate Digital
  • Kashmiri Sood, President and CEO, Ranka Group
  • Kimberly Stewart, CEO, Arbitration Place Inc.
  • Alain Sutton, Founder, Chairman & CEO, Toronto Congress Centre
  • Bryan Tuckey, President and CEO, Building Industry and Land Development Association
  • Brad Watson, Partner, KPMG LLP
  • Andrew Weir, Vice-President, Communications, Tourism Toronto
  • Carol Wilding, President and CEO, Toronto Board of Trade
  • Geoffrey Wilson, President and CEO, Toronto Port Authority
  • Hon. Michael H. Wilson, Chairman, Barclays Capital Canada

City delegates :

  • Councillor Paul Ainslie (Ward 43 Scarborough East), Chair, Government Management Committee Councillor
  • Michelle Berardinetti (Ward 35 Scarborough Southwest), Executive Committee Member
  • Councillor Mike Del Grande (Ward 39 Scarborough-Agincourt), Chair, Budget Committee
  • Councillor Doug Ford, Ward 2 Etobicoke North
  • Councillor Mark Grimes (Ward 6 Etobicoke-Lakeshore), Pan Am Games Secretariat
  • Councillor Peter Milczyn (Ward 5 Etobicoke-Lakeshore), Chair, Planning and Growth Management Committee
  • Councillor Jaye Robinson (Ward 25 Don Valley West), Executive Committee Member
  • Councillor Michael Thompson (Ward 37 Scarborough Centre), Chair, Economic Development Committee
  • Michael Williams, General Manager, Economic Development and Culture
  • George Spezza, Director, Business Services, Economic Development and Culture

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