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Hamilton Economic Development

Startup Weekend Inspires Entrepreneurs in Hamilton Again

Hamilton, ON (April 30, 2012) – Last weekend, 95 developers, designers, marketers, business professionals, animators, and engineers came together in the Collaboratory at Mohawk College to spend 54 hours trying to launch new startups in Hamilton.

Click here to read the full release (PDF)

$1.3m provincial loan lures tech firm Fibracast to Ancaster

ANCASTER – The provincial government is betting $1.3 million on a local company’s water treatment technology.

The investment as announced Friday morning under Ontario’s Innovation Demonstration Fund. The program helps finance the process of turning an idea that works in a lab into a product that’s ready for the market.

Fibracast Ltd. is in the membrane filtration business, producing a system that uses a flat sheet of membrane material to filter out the impurities and turn waste water into drinking water.

The public money is a forgivable loan – if Fibracast’s technology can be shown to work and the company locates its manufacturing operation here the loan will be written off. The payoff for the province in 10 jobs during the testing phase and the chance of another 60 by next year.

MPP Ted McMeekin announced the loan and said such support is a key part of building Ontario’s much-discussed “green” economy.

John Tomescu, Fibracast CEO, said the company’s technology has the potential to cut the cost of membrane water treatment in half, opening vast new markets for technology that’s more effect than traditional treatment methods.

The public support, he added, was one of the reasons he chose to locate the company here rather than in California where the technology was developed.

“This kind of support is an amazing way of helping us bridge the research and commercialization phases of this project,” he said.

This article is for personal use only courtesy of TheSpec.com – a division of Metroland Media Group Ltd.

Hamilton: The Hammer is Coming Back

Economic growth remains lacklustre in Ontario, as fiscal restraint, a strong Canadian dollar and somewhat sluggish U.S. demand should pin growth below 2% this year. Even so, Hamilton’s economy has shown encouraging signs recently, especially in the job market, despite some ongoing challenges.

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Hamilton building permits bouncing toward a boom

Hamilton's building permit numbers for the first quarter of 2012 are outpacing those of its record-setting $1 billion year in 2010. Among the permits for this year is one for this hotel on George Street.Hamilton is on track to surpass the previous $1-billion record building boom set in 2010 as the city gathers its first-quarter building-permit reports.

The total value of construction in the first quarter of this year is $271 million, up $75 million compared to the first quarter of that record-setting year.

Aside from the warm winter, Neil Everson, the city’s director of economic development, said part of the reason for the fast start is the issue of permits for long-awaited developments such as the $15 million in construction at McMaster Automotive Resource Centre (MARC) on Longwood Road, expected to be complete by January 2013 at a total cost of $26 million.

In March, the city also issued building permits worth about $6.5 million to the first hotel — a 129-room Staybridge at the corner of George and Caroline — in Darko Vranich’s massive condo and hotel plan. He is planning four buildings, containing 600 condo units, two hotels and retail space, a $125-million complex bounded by King, Main, Bay and Hess streets.

However, it’s the increase from $28 million in industrial/commercial development in the first quarter of 2010 to $65 million this year in a diverse set of companies that has Everson buoyant about 2012’s outlook.

“The diversity is what makes us really happy,” said Everson. “I think that’s what helped Hamilton weather the 2008 recession somewhat better than other places which may be reliant on the auto sector, for example.”

There was also a collection of small and not-so-small commercial projects such as the new Starsky grocery store in the east end ($900,000); the $7.7-million Walmart on the corner of Ottawa and Barton streets; another $768,000 phase at the Walmart power centre in Flamborough and a new Starbucks/Shoppers Drug Mart complex across from McMaster worth about $2.5 million.

The first-quarter results follow the release of the city’s economic development department’s annual review, which noted strong figures for 2011, with the critical non-residential (commercial and industrial) permits representing 21 per cent of the annual total.

Everson said it’s hard to predict what will happen with the residential building permits, but he’s crossing his fingers that the next quarter will be just as strong as Maple Leaf and another company, Activation Labs, start construction on new buildings.

The volume of inquiries has picked up — but Hamilton has often been the target of inquiries. Only lately have they followed through.

“They used to kick the tires; now they’re buying the car,” said Everson.

This article is for personal use only courtesy of TheSpec.com – a division of Metroland Media Group Ltd.

Not your average steel warehouse

The CareGo facility on Eastport Drive features a huge solar panel on the side of the building among its many green features. From left, is Robert Edwards, Martin Boni, Marty Donovan, and Demetrius Tsafaridis.Where many companies still think adding “green” technology to their buildings is nothing more than an expensive public relations effort, one local company is showing how that technology can be turned into profit.

Along the way, Hamilton-based CareGo Innovation Solutions is also catching the attention of European companies and governments anxious to reduce their carbon footprint on the world.

“We want to prove the point for other companies about the results of this technology,” CareGo president Demetrius Tsafaridis said. “The savings have been tremendous. For very little extra capital, we’ve been able to generate real savings we can pass on to our customers.”

CareGo’s technology showpiece is its Plant 19 operation on the bayfront. From the outside, it looks pretty much like any other steel warehouse in the world — a large empty space where coils of steel sit until a steelmaker is ready to coat it for an end customer or that customer is ready to bash it into auto parts.

Inside, however, the story is different. Where traditional warehouse design calls for a truck bay in the centre with storage area on both sides, Plant 19’s truck bay is at the end of the plant, allowing most of the area to be sealed off. In addition, the outer doors of the bay are kept closed, a combination that has already paid handsome savings on energy bills.

“The old way really wasted a lot of energy,” explained Bob Edwards, general manager of CareGo’s Green Age Design unit. “We’re showing companies can have a real effect on their energy costs.”

Another problem for steel warehouses is the effect of condensation on the coils — that’s especially critical when the metal is intended for exposed auto parts. The traditional way of handling that has been to maintain a temperature within the warehouse. It works, but it involves heating a lot of empty air.

CareGo clears that hurdle with a system of sensors in the transfer car that notes the coil’s temperature and then moves it to a special area where a system of radiant tubes slowly raises its temperature to a point where condensation won’t form.

Other systems capture rain water on the building’s roof and use it to flush the toilets inside, an outside storage ponds holds any excess until it can be filtered and sent directly back into the bay rather than through the city’s sewage treatment system, a solar panel along one wall provides enough heat that Union Gas tested its meters three times to be sure they were recording the plant’s use properly.

The warehouse operation has been automated to the point where a single employee is needed to monitor the system as it gathers information from customers and then instructs its cranes which coils to pick out and to remember what was moved where to fill that order. That work can all be done at night when electricity rates are cheaper.

“That lets us become part of the value chain, not just a warehouse,” said Martin Boni, director of technology and solutions for CareGo’s Carelynx Corporation unit.

Even the floor of the warehouse was built with an eye to environmental impact. It’s made of interlocking bricks rather than poured concrete. That means if the plant ever has to be moved, more than 90 per cent of the material can go with the company.

“It’s really like a big Meccano set,” Tsafaridis said. “If we ever have to move shop, we can just pick it up and go.”

Other environmental features of Plant 19 include a double-skinned roof, extra insulation and high-speed truck doors to control the temperature inside the building, a heat recovery ventilator to expel warm, stale air from inside, and draw and warm incoming fresh air. About 45 per cent of the material that went into constructing the building was recycled.

Adding all that green technology to the plant when it was built in 2003 increased the construction cost by about 10 per cent, but that was recovered in 14 months through operational savings. It was the first industrial building in Canada certified to the gold standard by the Canada Green Building Council.

That success has prompted a change in the company’s corporate culture — spurred by a decision to pay a portion of the savings out to the company’s 105 employees as a bonus. The chance for that “something extra” in the pay envelope now has workers shouting at smokers to close the door behind them when they step out for a puff.

This article is for personal use only courtesy of TheSpec.com – a division of Metroland Media Group Ltd.

Michael Marini with CHML – April 13, 2012

Michael Marini, Marketing Coordinator with Hamilton Economic Development joined CHML’s Scott Thompson LIVE from the newly restored Lister Block to chat about recent Hamilton investment stories.

Click here to listen.

 

 

Michael Marini with CHML – April 2, 2012

Michael Marini, Marketing Coordinator with Hamilton Economic Development joined CHML’s Scott Thompson to chat about recent Hamilton investment stories.

Click here to listen.

 

Hamilton Highlights Newsletter – April 2012

In the April 2012 newsletter of Hamilton Highlights…

  • 2011 Annual Review
  • Startup Weekend 2
  • Maple Leaf Foods go Green in Hamilton
  • Start a Conversation
  • Did You Know…

Click here to read the April 2012 Hamilton Highlights newsletter.  If you are interested in signing up for the Hamilton Highlights newsletter, click here.

 

 

 

Global Sensation Startup Weekend Returns to Hamilton

Hamilton, ON (April 16, 2012) – Hamilton’s Regional Innovation Centre (RIC), Innovation Factory (iF) has teamed up once again with Software Hamilton to bring the international movement of Startup Weekend to Hamilton this spring. Startup Weekend is a global network of passionate leaders & entrepreneurs on a mission to inspire, educate & empower individuals, teams & communities. Attendees come share to ideas, form teams & launch startups.

Click here to read the full release (PDF)

Hamilton Highlights Newsletter – March 2012

In the March 2012 newsletter of Hamilton Highlights…

  • The Green Economy
  • Hamilton Chamber on the Move
  • A Salute to Small Business
  • Did You Know…

Click here to read the March 2012 Hamilton Highlights newsletter.  If you are interested in signing up for the Hamilton Highlights newsletter, click here.

 

 

 

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