Trade mission to Chicago 'a first step,' Ford says
Published Tuesday, September 18, 2012 7:12AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, September 18, 2012 10:34PM EDT
Rob Ford and a team of delegates have arrived in Chicago for a two-day trade mission.
The team, which includes several city councillors and local business leaders, arrived at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport slightly ahead of schedule, stopping to speak to reporters waiting for them on the ground.
"This is a first step," Ford told CP24. "I'm really looking forward to meeting the movers and shakers."
The team's focus will be to renew a "twin-city" partnership agreement between the two cities and identify ways to stimulate job growth.
Ford is scheduled to meet with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the former chief of staff to U.S. President Barack Obama.
"We are taking an all-star team from Toronto's business community with us to Chicago," Ford said in a statement released earlier Tuesday. "Their talents, experience and insight will help us to maximize the opportunities and relationships we will be creating and building upon this week."
George Cohon, founder of McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada, and Robert Deluce, president and CEO of Porter Airlines, are the co-chairs of the “Team Toronto” initiative. Other members of the 60-person delegate include former Ontario premiers Mike Harris and Ernie Eves.
“The mission is important to solidify growing relationships and inspire new opportunities. I’m proud and excited to be a part of it,” Cohon said in a statement.
Ford said he wants to see Toronto continue to head in this direction.
"This is the type of trade mission that we should have been doing years ago," he told reporters. "We are going to do more trade missions and take it from there."
Later in the afternoon, Ford visited Millennium Park, checking out the iconic Cloud Gate, as well as greeting well-wishers and answering questions from the media.
“This is cool,” Ford remarked of the structure.
Ford said the park, created in part through private funding, served as an example of what was possible in Toronto through private-public partnerships.
CP24 reporter Katie Simpson is in Chicago to cover the business mission. Watch CP24 for live updates throughout the two-day trip.
@ChrisKitching and @SandieBenitah are on Twitter. Don't forget, for instant breaking news, follow @CP24 on Twitter.