Hamilton Highlights Newsletter – June 2013
In the June 2013 edition of Hamilton Highlights…
- ER Monaco Winners Announced
- Dartnall Road Extension
- Ontario Centres of Excellence Awards
- New Office Development in the Core
- Summer Company Starts Up
City completes $80m harbour cleanup
After decades of contamination, Hamilton’s harbour is making strides toward being removed from the list of the country’s most polluted hot spots.
MP and federal Environment Minister Peter Kent, along with Ontario Rural Affairs Minister Jeff Leal and Mayor Bob Bratina announced on Wednesday that three major projects — upgrades to the Dundas wastewater treatment plant, new sewer overflow systems at the Woodward Avenue wastewater treatment plant and the remediation of the Windermere Basin — have been completed.
Full funding for the remediation of Randle Reef was put in place in December, and the completion of the work marks a huge step forward in the push to delist the harbour as an area of concern.
“The last time there was something this big, this significant, in this part of Hamilton that had to do with the water was back in 1860, when the Prince of Wales came and opened the waterworks plant. That was a huge achievement that led to an amazing community that grew up because it had fresh water,” said Hamilton Harbour Remedial Action Plan (RAP) co-ordinator John Hall.
“But as we know, we polluted that water. That was part of what happened in the past. We’ve now turned things around, and are coming a huge distance. We’re almost there.”
The city has been working for years to turn Windermere Basin, the long-polluted sediment trap where Red Hill Creek meets the east harbour, into a wetland bird sanctuary.
Workers dumped more than 20,000 truckloads of clay into the basin to cap polluted sediment that has built up over decades of industrial and sewage abuse.
The area has also been cut off from the still-polluted Red Hill Creek with berms and a gate to keep out carp. The city then pumped water back into the wetland.
One major hurdle left in terms of harbour cleanup is upgrading the outdated Woodward Avenue wastewater treatment plant. Both the federal government and the province had pledged $100 million toward the $770-million project, seen as a critical component of the city’s plans to clean the harbour and meet its development targets.
However, because the city’s water consumption has fallen and growth hasn’t taken hold as quickly as expected, the city has scaled back both the scope and timeline of the Woodward upgrade.
While the provincial government has agreed to maintain its $100-million commitment, the federal government has yet to follow suit.
Kent says while he can’t yet confirm anything, he expects the federal government will recommit that funding.
“I would think that it’s just a matter of time,” he said. “Hamilton really is a model for a lot of other Canadian cities that haven’t been as diligent in their stewardship of clean water.”
The three projects announced Wednesday cost $80 million: $2.4 million to upgrade the Dundas wastewater treatment plant to ensure contaminants aren’t carried into the harbour; $57 million for new overflow systems at the Woodward wastewater plant that will help divert sewage during wet weather, and $20.6 million for the Windermere remediation.
The federal government contributed $35 million, the province paid $15 million, and the city covered the remaining $30 million.
At Baffin, these boots are made for helping
STONEY CREEK A Hamilton company is putting boots on the ground to help the Calgary flood victims.
On Tuesday Baffin Polar Proven Footwear shipped out 7,000 pairs of rubber boots to Calgary customers, just after donating 250 pairs during the height of the emergency rescue efforts to aid agencies.
“I saw a picture in the Edmonton Sun of an elderly woman being carried out of her home by a firefighter and someone had slipped on a pair of Baffins,” said Jeff Wellwood, a spokesperson for the Arvin Avenue manufacturer. “It just fits in so nicely with our philanthropic vision.”
It’s not just floods that are swelling the need for Baffin’s footwear — the company’s industrial footwear as well as rugged outdoor gear has become so popular it is spending $2.8 million on a new 67,000-square-foot worldwide distribution warehouse addition, landscaping as well as an energy-efficient retrofit on the 100,000-square-foot original building.
Paul Hubner, president, said the new warehouse is a sign of a general strengthening in the market for all of Baffin’s products, including its new clothing line and a new industrial work boot that was launched last week.
“Those are just flying out,” he said.
It’s a sign of a company that is starting to build strong brand recognition, helped by the made-in-Canada label, he said.
“Believe it or not a lot of Europeans look for that Canadian-made product,” said Hubner.
So much so that he plans to bring production of the company’s Heritage brand snowboots back to Stoney Creek sometime next year.
“The price of doing business in China is going up and up so that while there’s still a big (production cost) difference, it’s not the difference it once was,” he said. “We feel there is good enough overall demand for that made-in-Canada product to bring it back here.”
Marvin Mimms, Baffin’s vice-president and CFO, said the addition will help contain some of those costs, using energy efficient lighting, and other products as part of the Save on Energy program at Horizon Utilities, with eventual savings of anywhere from 36 per cent to 48 per cent in electrical bills.
The warehouse itself also has a number of new features such as more doors, narrower aisles and taller, 32-foot ceilings to speed up shipping processes.
“This is more of a consolidation of spaces so our footprint isn’t that much larger but with this new design, we gain a lot more pallet positions,” said Mimms.
The company has also signed up to be a FIT (Feed in Tariff) 2 partner with a 500-kilowatt solar panel installed on its roof. It will initially sell back the electricity.
The addition itself will not bring any more warehouse jobs but Hubner said the company recently hired more sales and marketing staff as it completed the installment of proprietary business-to-business software for its customers and grew its customer base.
Baffin now has about 125 employees.
Article courtesy of Lisa Marr, The Hamilton Spectator.
Some cities learn it takes a village to foster a generation of entrepreneurs
On a cool night in April, a who’s who of Hamilton’s young professional world gathered in the back of the Art Gallery of Hamilton’s Design Annex, a space opened in 2012 on the increasingly hip James Street North stretch of galleries, shops, restaurants and studios.
There were city councillors, McMaster University professors, entrepreneurs, and business contacts in real estate, consulting and all kinds of creative industries. They were there to celebrate the two-year anniversary of an executive roundtable series that has hosted 24 sessions of senior business people passing on their knowledge to the city’s up-and-coming younger generation of entrepreneurs and professionals, discussing everything from marketing and social media to legal advice and property options.
On this occasion, Joe Accardi, the 28-year-old economics graduate from Toronto who started the roundtables, passes on the torch to a new chair.
“I used to get deflated by the local community when I would speak of the bright future and renewal,” Mr. Accardi said of the business atmosphere when he moved to Hamilton just a few years ago. “I would be told that ‘I’ve heard that before’ or ‘We already tried that.’ Now when I speak of what’s happening, there are more inspirers than deflaters: ‘Yeah, it’s happening.’ ”
Within the few years he has been here, Mr. Accardi started up the roundtable series, began running a property management company, and, just last year, opened The Green Smoothie Bar on James Street and a social business space called Platform 302, similar to Toronto’s Centre for Social Innovation.
He is a testament to what is possible when a city fosters its business-hungry, creative young people, something Hamilton and many several other middle-sized cities have focused on in the past five years.
In the city once known for its big industry, there is now a “spirit of optimism” among its small business community, says Marvin Ryder, an assistant professor of marketing and entrepreneurship from McMaster’s DeGroote School of Business.
Mr. Ryder says the positive outlook is largely due to a well-timed coincidence of effort from the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, the local Small Business Enterprise Centre (SBEC) and McMaster’s Innovation Park in fostering the region’s newer generation of entrepreneurs and young professionals.
“Everyone’s trying to do a little something so you have what appears to be a nice ground swell,” he said.
Hamilton has had its share of attention in the past year as many are flocking to the city for its cheaper real estate and growing arts community, with the art crawl on James Street North as a symbol of renewal of the city’s downtown. Many of its 10,000 or so graduates from local post-secondary institutions, who once would have left the city after graduating, are staying. Heritage buildings are up for rent, and they’re affordable. And many businesses in the technology and arts sectors now require less startup costs than did the manufacturing businesses of the previous generation.
But many are pointing to the success of local networking groups such as Mr. Accardi’s executive roundtables that have connected the various generations of entrepreneurs and inspired further growth.
Another group called Hamilton Hive, which began in 2010, was promoted as a best practice in February at the annual conference of the Economic Developers Council of Ontario (EDCO). It is similar to a regional LinkedIn, but it also has a mentoring component and runs a large annual conference, Hive X.
“There are a lot of new young professional groups emerging from chambers of commerce and boards of trade,” says Nirvana Champion, chair of the Young Professionals Network within the EDCO, a committee she founded just two years ago. “It’s an increasing focus… It is quite important because those are your next leaders, your next entrepreneurs.”
Champion points to other groups in cities not too far from Hamilton that have been trying to inspire its younger wave of business people: Niagara Next, Emerging Leaders in London, Ont., and the Young Professionals Association of Greater Sudbury.
Examples of similar new groups exist across the country. Fusion Halifax, which started five years ago, went from 10 founding board members to a present-day 3,500 members. It hosts a monthly networking event and an annual mentorship program.
Current chair Sarah Levy MacLeod, 30, was a mentee a few years ago and says “mentorship is a critically important piece specifically when building that next generation of leaders.”
The group and its events, including annual awards and Viva City, a development symposium, has really helped make the business community feel closer, she says.
“The job market here tends to be quite closed, there are a lot of advertised positions but there are just as many positions not advertised. It kind of does become about who you know,” she says.
Back in Hamilton, 28-year-old Danielle Height, who co-owns the smoothie bar with Mr. Accardi, says the strategy is working.
“It’s a huge movement,” she says. “Once you know a few people in the business community, all they want to do is help you; they want to pass you around and help you thrive.”
Ms. Height also runs a design company with twin sister Melissa, who is the current chair of Hamilton Hive.
It’s a large business community, but somehow, they all seem connected, admits Michael Marini of Hamilton’s Economic Development Division.
“It’s a city of over 500,000 but it’s a city of 500 because everyone knows someone through someone.”
Brampton meat company leases space at Paletta International
A Brampton import/export meat company is moving into Paletta International’s 90,000-square-foot freezer on Glover Road this summer as it seeks to find ways to tap into the region’s easy access to the GTA and the United States.
Mark Ishoy, director of operations for Sierra Supply Chain Services, a division of Eastern Meat Solutions based in Brampton, is moving into the new facility in a 10-year lease as it seeks to consolidate its freezer storage space scattered throughout the GTA and position itself for growth.
“A lot of our business is in the GTA and the U.S. so this is a great corridor for us,” said Ishoy. “It will allow us to give our customers the kind of service they’ve come to expect.”
Ishoy said the move will create about 10 new positions in Hamilton, including at least one refrigeration technician.
He said the facility built by Paletta came ready to move in, with “state-of-the-art” technology and a 10-acre parcel at the back of the building that gives room for expansion.
“We see this as a pillar of our business.”
Angelo Paletta said he was pleased to have a tenant that fits so well into the growing food manufacturing cluster at the Glanbrook Industrial Park.
“We’re happy to have them and to grow with them,” he said.
Paletta International is also involved in the construction of other commercial projects in the Rymal-Glover Road area.
It has leased some space on Rymal next to the new Lococo’s grocery store and has built a seven-unit plaza with two tenants so far — a Chinese restaurant and Quesada, a Mexican restaurant.
Paletta said the company still has 70 acres to develop on Glover Road and has plans to develop that area soon.
“I like the ability to do good deals,” he said.
10 companies set to tussle in the Lion’s Lair
Ten Hamilton companies, from a customized hockey blade manufacturer to a pain-tracking tool to a social media app for walking tours, are heading into the Lion’s Lair competition.
The finalists gathered at the Innovation Factory headquarters Wednesday evening to formally commit to taking part in the months-long bid to win a share of the $100,000 prize.
Many finalists said they are looking for exposure for their product to land sales or investment, others said they want business advice from the panel of judges (the lions).
All said they were thrilled to be among the 10 finalists chosen from 60 applicants.
“We are just really proud to be involved in this,” said Peter Rupcic, vice-president of sales and marketing for Lusso Living. The company is promoting a motorized system to lower and open cabinets for those in wheelchairs.
“The exposure for our product is something we couldn’t do on our own.”
Tom Schopf, who designs and markets products for competitive cyclists, says having access to business mentors is a huge opportunity.
“If you surround yourself with people who always just say, ‘That’s wonderful,’ you’ll never have that breakthrough moment.”
The finalists will spend the summer training with mentors to make pitches to the lions.
The judges for the third annual competition are: Carmela Trombetta (RBC Royal Bank), Paul Lee-Chin (Manulife Securities), Mike Morreale (CFL Players’ Association), Mark Chamberlain (Trivaris Ltd.) and Blair McKeil (McKeil Marine).
“We have seen entrepreneurial spirit grow across Hamilton, and this competition allows us to train some of the best innovators and entrepreneurs in this area, and present them to the Hamilton community,” said Ron Neumann, executive director of Innovation Factory.
The competition awards $100,000 in cash and business services, with half going to the winner.
Lion’s Lair is a partnership between the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce and Innovation Factory.
Tidy Feeder, REfficient and Nervu were winners in 2012, while Weever Apps, Anivac and Gorilla Cheese took the honours in 2011.
Chamber of Commerce: New CEO takes reins
Keanin Loomis has an intense 100 days in front of him.
The newly installed president and CEO of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce has set aside those three months for “a lot of listening and meeting with various stakeholders” as he readies the business lobby group’s new agenda.
“The next 100 days are really about getting ready for September,” Loomis said in an interview Monday. “These next three months will determine what the following six to 12 months will look like.”
Loomis, 38, a former Washington D.C. lawyer and chief operating officer of Innovation Factory at McMaster Innovation Park, took the reins of the chamber Monday, a month after he was hired to replace David Adames.
During the coming months, Loomis said his goals include filling holes in the chamber staff — a policy director position has been created but never filled and three other jobs are also vacant.
Once his period of listening is finished, Loomis said he’s thinking of establishing a series of task forces to work intensively on the five policy priorities the chamber has taken from the most recent Hamilton Economic Summit as keys to future growth: transportation, advanced manufacturing, health sciences, education and the creative industries.
“These are five great priorities I want to continue to push on but I’m not ready yet to be right out there with clear goals,” he said. “Over the summer, we’ll take the time to put some meat on those bones.”
Another key priority, he added, will be to develop the chamber’s muscle on public policy questions to ensure the voice of business is heard.
“I want to re-establish the chamber as the thought leader on questions of business policy,” he said. We have to show people that there are benefits to being a member.”
Part of accomplishing that goal, he added, will require developing some technology tools the business lobby currently doesn’t have — things such as a community jobs board, a community calendar, an online business directory and others.
“These are all tools that I think we have to have to make the chamber relevant,” he said. “Technology has to be part of all that but we don’t have the capability right now.”
Article courtesy of The Hamilton Spectator.