“Manufacturing excellence drives new Toyota investment in Waterloo,” says the blog headline from April.
The story almost immediately clarifies that Toyota’s award-winning plant is actually in Cambridge.
And at the bottom of most of the pages on the website, there’s a disclaimer that says Waterloo really means Waterloo Region.
But still, this is the kind of subtle cultural appropriation that keeps Cambridge residents awake at 3 a.m.
Amalgamation by stealth, if you will.
Tony LaMantia, president and chief executive officer of the corporation, is unapologetic.
He points out that he isn’t speaking to a local audience. Instead, it’s his job to convince decision-makers in the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom to locate and expand their businesses here in Waterloo Region.
And it’s easier to do that if you don’t give these people even a sniff of the bureaucratic tangle that is our two-tier municipal system.
Local politicians may care about the differences between Galt and West Galt, or between the City of Waterloo and the Region of Waterloo. These globally-focused business leaders don’t.
They’re “not interested in building walls around the cities or the townships,” LaMantia said. “They want to be free to go in and out.”
He points out that his organization isn’t the only one doing this. A company called Waterloo Brewing is based in Kitchener. When Toronto made its bid for an Amazon headquarters, the term “Toronto-Waterloo corridor” was used as a name for what LaMantia calls the “brain belt.”
Why pick Waterloo, though, out of the three cities?
“My world revolves around search engine optimization and Google analytics,” LaMantia said.
For every 1,000 times someone Googles the name Waterloo Region and for every 3,000 to 4,000 times someone types the names Kitchener and Cambridge into a search engine, there are 90,000 searches for Waterloo.
This is mostly thanks to wide public recognition of the University of Waterloo, one of the top technology universities in the world.
Whether or not the provincial government decides to merge Waterloo Region’s three cities and four townships into one big community, this has already happened in the more nimble world of business.
And our name is Waterloo.