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Hamilton Economic Development

Hamilton Highlights Newsletter – May 2015

In the May 2015 edition of Hamilton Highlights…

  • Grow Your Business Opportunities Through the Pan Am Games
  • McMaster Downtown Public Health Campus Officially Opens
  • Tweetstock Comes to Hamilton in June
  • The Big DiF Showcases Hamilton’s Innovation Ecosystem

Click here to read the May 2015 Hamilton Highlights newsletter.  If you are interested in signing up for the Hamilton Highlights newsletter, click here.

Welcome to our ‘city of opportunity’

Photo of Hamilton Harbour AreaHamilton is a “city of opportunity” for corporations looking for alternatives to the congestion and overheated real estate market of Toronto, says commercial property giant Colliers International.

In a study released Thursday, Colliers says Hamilton is to Toronto what Milwaukee is to Chicago. The two medium-sized “anchor cities” have much in common, including a similar history of deindustrialization and recent revitalization.

But Hamilton is about 70 kilometres from Toronto, compared to 150 km between Chicago and Milwaukee.

“Major cities are slowly grinding to a halt,” said Colliers’ senior vice-president Sydney Hamber during a breakfast presentation in raw third-floor office space in the Right House building downtown.

Traffic congestion and high housing costs are making employment in metropolitan areas more difficult, said Hamber.

Colliers says Hamilton has five key attributes that will allow corporations relocating from the GTA to manage cuts and retain employees:

• Lower overall rent, taxes and development charges for the corporation and costs of living for employees.

• A highly skilled labour force.

• Redevelopment opportunities in terms of industrial and office stock and city incentives.

• Lower commute times.

• Lifestyle amenities, including natural and cultural.

While much has been made of the influx of Toronto buyers on the residential side, Hamber says the same draw of affordability and urban amenities exists in the industrial and office sectors.

“There is a significant supply and demand imbalance in the city. We are seeing multiple offers on some industrial buildings.”

He believes idled U.S. Steel Canada lands have the potential to bring as many as 24,000 jobs to the city.

“It’s all here if we want to go and get it … If the city plays its cards right, we will become the city of the future.”

Colliers, which has 16,300 employees in 67 countries, joins the Real Estate Investment Network and Foreign Direct Investment in citing Hamilton as among the best places to invest in the country.

Jason Thorne, the city’s director of planning and economic development, said he’s set a goal for his department to “make Hamilton the best place in Canada to start and grow a business.”

He acknowledged this will be a tall order and will mean examining all aspects of his department’s operations, from marketing and business attraction to making development approvals streamlined and predictable.

“But it’s what we need to do to keep this wave of interest and keep it going.”

He pointed out that Hamilton’s economy is measured as the most diverse in Canada. He said a range of city incentives have succeeded in luring investment.

“We are well positioned to continue this growth. By no means are we approaching the limits of growth.”

Hamber says when he began his commercial real estate career, he thought Hamilton was on the cusp of a turnaround.

“I’m a very patient man because it’s been 32 years and we’re in it now.”

Also Thursday, the Conference Board of Canada released its 2015 economic forecast calling for 2.7 per cent growth in Hamilton this year.

That places the city fourth — behind Toronto, Vancouver and Halifax, which are all expected to grow by 3.1 per cent.

Actual growth for 2014 was 1.7 per cent.

“Hamilton’s ongoing recovery is encouraging, especially in the city’s manufacturing sector where we are expecting activity to rise by 1.8 per cent this year and another 2.3 per cent in 2016,” said Alan Arcand, associate director at the Centre for Municipal Studies.

The report cites positive effects from the weakening Canadian dollar and the strengthening U.S. economy.

“With Hamilton sharing the hosting duties for the upcoming Pan Am/Parapan Am Games with Toronto, growth in the local economy’s tourism-related industries is also expected to be healthy,” said Arcand.

The Conference Board predicts overall growth for Hamilton of 2.6 per cent in 2016, which would put it third in the country.

The board predicts strong growth for 2015 in transportation and warehousing and non-residential construction, including projects at McMaster University, the new James Street North GO Station and the Hamilton harbour cleanup.

Among 13 census metropolitan areas, the board forecasts negative growth for only Edmonton and Calgary.

Hamilton vs. Toronto

Population: 510,000 vs. 2.6 million

Class A residential rental rate per square foot: $15 vs. $54

Percentage of residents with a bachelor’s degree: 22 vs. 33

Unemployment rate: 5.6 vs. 7.6 (per cent)

Median home value: $269,000 vs. $439,000

Average commute time: 27 minutes vs. 33 min.

Source: Colliers International, Cities of Opportunity and Statistics Canada

Hot housing

A hot sellers’ housing market continues to drive up prices in the Hamilton area.

According to Teranet-National Bank home price index numbers released this week, the Hamilton area saw the highest year-over-year April home price increase among major urban areas in Canada at 7.59 per cent. That edged out Toronto’s 7.28 per cent.

But the numbers also indicate prices in Hamilton — which includes Burlington and Grimsby — have backed off half a per cent since a peak in December.

The home price index tracks homes that have sold at least twice since June 2005. Since that time, prices of those homes in Hamilton have increased about 57 per cent.

The average for the country’s top 11 urban areas is more than 68 per cent, led by gains of well over 80 per cent in Winnipeg, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.

Article courtesy of Meredith MacLeod, The Hamilton Spectator

Fellfab is fabulous, says Boeing of Hamilton firm

Photo of Eric Taylor, President of FellfabThe Hamilton company that clothed the space shuttle’s robotic arm has found its way into another rarefied orbit.

Fellfab Limited is one of 15 companies named Supplier of the Year by American aircraft maker Boeing Inc. — a global giant with a $62-billion-a-year supply chain of more than 13,000 companies from 47 countries.

For Fellfab president Eric Taylor the honour is a clear sign there’s life in Hamilton manufacturing. The company is located on Barton Street East near Kenora Avenue.

“We’ve done quite well,” Taylor said of the award presented in mid-April. “We fly a little bit under the radar, but we’re not only still here we’re adding employment and expanding.”

Founded 63 years ago, there’s very little Fellfab hasn’t made over the decades for its customers in the aviation, medical, telecommunication, military, industrial, aerospace and transportation sectors. Products include all the curtains in any new Boeing aircraft, cushions for passenger trains, the first-class seats for Delta Air Lines travellers, knapsacks, sleeping bags and body bags for the Canadian army and, of course, the famous fabric clothing for the space shuttle’s robotic arm.

“We started by making tarps for trucks but now we focus on engineered textile solutions and value-added products,” Taylor said.

Fellfab is still owned by the Fell family.

The 10-year contract for Boeing’s curtains is a major focus for the company today, Taylor said, and it’s a demanding piece of business — Fellfab’s award was partly for delivering on-time, defect-free products more than 99 per cent of the time for 12 months.

That’s a level only 460 of Boeing’s suppliers around the world have managed to meet.

“Hitting that level is almost an entry point with these guys, it’s certainly not a coasting point,” he said. “Getting an honour like this is a little humbling, a little overwhelming and really causes you to reflect on the good work your people are doing.”

The company has more than 100 employees.

As with many manufacturers, Taylor said the nature of their business has changed over the years. It used to be that the Canadian military would present a supplier with detailed plans and drawings for the products it wanted. Now Fellfab is presented with a need and left to create an answer.

Meeting that style of business has required some hefty investments — last year alone the company spent $300,000 on new 3D software and a development group.

That kind of spending, he said is necessary to keep the company’s North American production processes at top efficiency.

“The pressure on us are huge in the international markets,” Taylor said. “We are very process-oriented because on some projects we’re competing against companies that pay $2 an hour or have people sewing at home.”

Boeing’s 2015 suppliers of the year include 11 American companies and one university and single companies from each of Sweden, Japan and Canada.

In a news release announcing the honours, Boeing president Dennis Muilenburg said the quality of its supply chain was one of the reasons the company was able to earn a record $90.8 billion in 2014 revenue.

“Strong partnerships with our suppliers can make a difference between winning and losing customers and competitions, or determining the success of a development program,” he said. “The best suppliers — like the ones recognized with the Supplier of the Year Award — operate as partners and differentiate themselves, and Boeing, from the competition through close collaboration and a relentless commitment to first-time quality, on-time delivery and affordability.”

Article courtesy of Steve Arnold, The Hamilton Spectator

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    Ranked Canada's most diversified economy, home to Canada's busiest multi-modal cargo airport, the busiest port on the Canadian Great Lakes, and centrally located within a one hour drive to Toronto, Waterloo and the Niagara/US Border, Hamilton is at the center of it all. With two internationally renowned post-secondary institutions in the city (surrounded by 23 other), a diverse and learned workforce and both ample greenfield and urban sites upon which to build, we're ready for your investment.

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