Be bold. Dream big. Cut red tape. Work together.

That was the message from participants at the Greater Toronto Region Economic Summit, convened to come up with a plan to steer the region’s economic engine out of the recession and back to prosperity.

“People are looking for some hope, some faith in the future. They’re hurting,” said Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion, co-chair of yesterday’s summit. “I think the message from this summit is going to give them some hope.”

In an unprecedented gathering at Seneca College’s Markham campus, 250 leaders from business, academia, social services, labour and politics brainstormed at the daylong session on how to guide the region to recovery.

The dozens and dozens of suggestions that came out of that will now be studied and considered, with a final action plan expected by the end of the month.

Some ideas were predictable, such as funding for training and apprenticeship programs, reforming the Employment Insurance system, and making it easier for internationally trained professionals to work here.

Others were outside the box, such as holding a Dragon’s Den–style competition for the brightest minds to tackle an innovation challenge.

Many of the suggestions focused on leveraging the Canadian banking success story amid a global financial meltdown that has catapulted Canada’s Big 5 banks into the top 15 in North America and top 35 in the world.

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