Study: City is a premier location for labour
Regina has topped Hamilton — but in the labour market, not on the football field.
A new study ranks Hamilton as one of the top five labour markets in Canada, placing Hamilton as fifth and Regina in the top spot.
In addition, Hamilton is the only eastern Canadian city in the top five, ranked well ahead of Toronto, Kitchener and London.
Prepared by the Bank of Montreal’s economics section, the report ranks cities as labour destinations based on median income, unemployment rate, employment growth and housing costs.
“What really sets Hamilton apart is your lower housing cost,” said economist Robert Kavcic, author of the study. “Your high incomes and low unemployment are also attractive.”
Kavcic’s figures show Hamilton boasting a median income of $69,900 compared to $70,500 in Regina, an average year-to-date unemployment rate of 6.4 per cent compared to 3.5 and average home prices of $381,000 compared to $311,400 in Regina.
However, the study found the city’s employment growth lagging much of the country.
Employment here fell 1.2 per cent over the last year. Regina posted employment gains of 6 per cent over the year.
Kavcic cautioned against putting too much stock in the Hamilton employment number, warning employment figures can swing wildly in smaller markets where changes at one employer can have a major impact.
One factor shaping employment growth in Hamilton, he added, may be those low housing prices because they attract people who live here but work elsewhere.
“Some of what’s happening in Hamilton may be related to people commuting to Toronto,” Kavcic said. “People are finding they can commute into Toronto and enjoy a much better home in Hamilton.”
Filling out the top five labour markets are western powerhouses Calgary, Edmonton and Saskatoon. Toronto placed ninth, Kitchener tenth and London seventeenth.
The study notes the movement of workers between markets and provinces has hit its highest level in 25 years. The biggest force drawing people from one part of the country to another is the prospect of finding a job.
“While there are winners and losers, a mobile labour force isn’t necessarily a bad thing to the extent that resources are directed to where they are needed most,” Kavcic said in a news release.
The movement of people following jobs also has impacts on the markets they leave and the ones they enter, affecting consumer spending, the housing market, the availability of skilled labour and even the finances of provinces.
The movement of younger people following jobs has the effect of raising the average age in provinces they leave, pushing down tax receipts while increasing demands for health care.
In western Canada, for example, surging population growth pushed retail sales up 6.4 per cent in Alberta and 3.3 per cent in Saskatchewan. At the same time demand for housing in Alberta has sparked a sellers’ market while homebuilding in Saskatchewan has hit a 30-year high.
Wage rates are also affecting the movement of people. The study notes that where wages in Ontario used to average $2 an hour more than in Alberta in the 1990s they are now $4 an hour lower.
Article courtesy of Steve Arnold, The Hamilton Spectator.
Hamilton giant ships more high-quality product in Q3 than it ever has
ArcelorMittal Dofasco shipped more of its prime high-quality steel in the third quarter of 2013 than it ever has before.
The company shipped 1.128 million net tons of prime steel between June and September.
Prime steel or “firsts” is the steel that meets all customer specifications, right down to thousandths of a millimetre in thickness and parts per million in chemistry. Steel that does not meet that standard is sold as “seconds.”
In a news release late Thursday, the Hamilton operation said it also expects 2013 full-year shipments to be a record for the second year in a row.
The news is a ray of light in what has been a dark week for the steel industry in Hamilton — U.S. Steel announced Oct. 29 that it is ending a century of steelmaking at its Hamilton Works plant.
ArcelorMittal Dofasco says it achieved the record at a time when its domestic market has been shrinking as manufacturers leave to produce in the United States, Mexico and elsewhere. The Canadian market remains 20 per cent lower than the peak market of 2006.
“Hitting a shipment record like this in a much smaller market is a major achievement,” said Brad Davey, vice-president, commercial.
The prime steel is destined for the automotive, construction, appliances and packaging sectors, along with steel service centres.
ArcelorMittal Dofasco has been ranked No. 1 for overall customer satisfaction against its direct competitors in the largest North American independent survey.
Davey said the company is dedicated to continuous improvement to drive innovation and boost productivity and efficiency.
“We continue to invest and innovate in order to meet our customers’ needs and to produce increasingly sophisticated steels … including those that are contributing to achieving more fuel efficient cars and sustainable buildings,” he said.
“Our future is bright and so is that of steelmaking in Hamilton. Steel is part of Hamilton’s DNA and manufacturing is a foundation to any successful economy.”
Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal cited an improving world economy when it announced a smaller third-quarter loss Thursday. The world’s largest steelmaker said it had a net loss of $193 million in the third quarter, a substantial reduction from the $652 million it lost in the same period last year.
Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization — or EBITDA, a metric followed closely in the steel industry — increased by 19 per cent to $1.7 billion, and steel shipments rose 6 per cent, although revenues declined slightly to $19.6 billion.
“We believe the bottom of the cycle is behind us,” said Lakshmi Mittal, the company’s chief executive. “As economic indicators are improving we are cautiously optimistic about the prospects for 2014.”
Sales in the North American flat steel division, which includes Dofasco, were up about 2 per cent to $4.9 billion, while EBITDA rose 68 per cent to $547 million. ArcelorMittal Dofasco is the largest producer of flat rolled steels in Canada.
The company’s Hamilton operation employs 5,200 and produces about 4.5 million net tons of steel a year.
ArcelorMittal Dofasco is also celebrating a World Steel Association award.
The company won in the Innovation of the Year category for its automated steelmaking process. This six-year project makes Dofasco home to the most automated basic oxygen furnace in the world, according to the company.
The project’s goal was to increase output of ultra-low carbon and advanced high-strength steels to meet future market demand.
“To have the most automated basic oxygen furnace in the world and the first such furnace that does not require manual sampling of the hot metal is a tremendous achievement,” said Sean Donnelly, vice-president manufacturing at ArcelorMittal Dofasco.
Donnelly said Hamilton staff are helping introduce the technology at other plants.
The World Steel Association includes 170 company members that represent 85 per cent of the world’s steel production.
Article courtesy of Meredith MacLeod, The Hamilton Spectator
In the November, 2013 edition of Hamilton Highlights…
- Hamilton Economic Development Wins National Award
- Investments Big and Small in Recent Days
- New Investment Lure Video Released
- New Mentorship Program in Hamilton
- investinhamilton.ca Gets a Refresh
Click here to read the November 2013 Hamilton Highlights newsletter. If you are interested in signing up for the Hamilton Highlights newsletter, click here.
In the September 2013 edition of Hamilton Highlights…
- Hamilton tops the nation…again!
- Site Selector App Now Available
- Lion’s Lair – a celebration of entrepreneurship in Hamilton
Click here to read the September 2013 Hamilton Highlights newsletter. If you are interested in signing up for the Hamilton Highlights newsletter, click here.
They didn’t want sleek skyline shots or earnest promo videos featuring people talking hometown pride.
The makers of a new city economic development video wanted it to stand out.
So they brought in beat poet Tomy Bewick, the organizer of Hamilton Poetry Slam, to riff on the city. Sitting in a hard hat and overalls in the middle of a concrete floor, he speaks in the first person as the city. Black and white shots of sparks fly as city landmarks play.
Without ever uttering the word Hamilton, the poet rejects past labels put on the city.
“I have grown hardened; back bone sturdy, forged from the fires of desire to dream. I am a manufacturing giant, producing one-third of all steel in this country. But I am not the steel city. I am more than metal sparks and steam.”
Bewick calls Hamilton a city of visionaries and incubators that is leading the nation in investment and Ontario’s fastest growing economy.
“What will they call me next? Canada’s comeback city?
“You can call me whatever you want. I was, I am and will forever be the ambitious city.”
The video was unveiled at the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce city manager’s breakfast Tuesday morning.
“It’s an art piece that gets people’s attention,” said Mike Marini, coordinator of marketing for the city’s economic development department.
He acted as executive producer, while Michael Pett of Colourblind Productions was producer and Christoph Benfey of Low Key Studio was the director.
“We really wanted to break the mold with this and do something different,” said Benfry.
The video features original music by Sasha Szlafarski and a sculpture by blacksmith artist Mark Korczynski that will find a temporary home in City Hall.
Article courtesy of Meredith MacLeod, The Hamilton Spectator
A green roof and a solar wall are just two of the energy-efficient technologies in the new Union Gas office and training facility officially opened in Stoney Creek on Tuesday.
The building, constructed on a 3.3-hectare parcel of land and estimated to have cost $30 million, is located along the Glover and South Service roads.
The new facility will be Union Gas’s regional base for Hamilton and Halton, housing about 80 employees. Company spokesman Andrea Stass said the site will also be used a training site for employees from across Ontario.
Stass said a number of native plants are being grown above the cafeteria on the green roof, which will provide shade in the summer.
The solar wall is along the back of the building facing the escarpment.
“It contains large dark blue panels with small holes that collect the heat, which is then used to preheat air for the building, reducing heating costs,” she explained.
The two-storey, 54,000-square-foot facility was designed to use 45 per cent less energy than a conventional building of the same size, Stass said.
The city provided Union Gas with a $629,751.94 Environmental Remediation and Site Enhancement redevelopment grant to help cover the costs of cleaning up the land.
Article courtesy of The Hamilton Spectator
The downtown landscape is undergoing a transformation — and the cranes at the corner of Main and Bay are among the more visible signs of economic growth.
Overall, the city has enjoyed a construction boom since 2010, when building permits topped $1 billion. This year will closely follow those strong permit figures with a year-to-date value of about $670 million (in August).
Twenty-five of the most significant downtown projects this year alone represent a massive expenditure with a total construction value of at least $300 million (many projects are incomplete) — a shift Glen Norton, the city’s manager of urban renewal, says is proof there is new life in the city’s core.
Norton said bit by bit the city’s incentive programs for developers are finding traction: four applications for the Gore building improvement grant program, five for its downtown property improvement grant, nine for façade grants and more for its multi-residential and other assorted loan and grant programs.
“People have to realize if they live in this city, this is the heart,” Norton said. “Sure we get 80,000 to 100,000 for Supercrawl, but they have to come back.”
Article courtesy of Lisa Marr, The Hamilton Spectator
Millionaire investor Jim Treliving knows a good deal and the Dragon’s Den veteran says his investment in a Hamilton couple’s tea company was the best he’s made during his eight years on the show.
Treliving and fellow Dragon David Chilton were on hand Friday to cut the red ribbon on the new headquarters of Steeped Tea, in the Ancaster business park.
CBC camera crews were on hand to film an update segment for the show, as guests sipped toffee caramel black tea and French toast oolong.
Though the Dragons are fiery on TV, Chilton and Treliving were positively cuddly as they praised Steeped Tea founders Tonia and Hatem Jahshan.
“This has been an incredible success,” said Chilton, author of the Wealthy Barber, who joined the show in its seventh season.
“I wish they were all this good. The growth rate they’ve seen is borderline bizarre, they are making good decisions and they are as hard-working a couple as I’ve seen.”
Chilton was immediately impressed with the couple and their direct sales business model when they pitched in April 2012, asking for $250,000 to expand into the United States.
But he expected to see some red flags as he scoped out their numbers. He found none, even after secretly enlisting his daughter to sign up as a sales consultant.
“I wanted to see how they trained their consultants, how quickly they responded to her questions.
“I also wanted product samples,” said Chilton, who was reassured when those around him loved the tea.
Treliving, a former RCMP officer who built a fortune through the Boston Pizza chain, says he makes his investment decisions based on the people behind the business. He says the Jahshans had both passion and a solid grasp of their business opportunities.
“My investment was easy to make. They understood where they were going. They just needed help to get to that level.”
Expansion to the U.S. is difficult, says Treliving. The market is different, consumers are different, the landscape is more litigious.
“A lot of Canadian companies have gone down there and had to come back in 10 years.”
Steeped Tea started in the Jahshans’ Mountain basement seven years ago after they tasted loose leaf tea on a trip to Nova Scotia. Tonia had sales experience and was immediately taken with the idea of selling through home parties, similar to Tupperware or the Pampered Chef.
Sales grew quickly as the ranks of consultants grew from a handful to hundreds and then thousands. Hatem, an engineer who holds an MBA, manages the numbers and logistics, while Tonia looks after personnel, recruiting consultants and coming up with new tea blends.
The company landed 27th in Canada on Profit magazine’s list of the fastest growing companies earlier this year, with revenue growth of 1,877 per cent over five years.
Steeped Tea now employs 42 and sends its 65 (and growing) blends of tea to 3,000 sales consultants across Canada, from their newly-christened 20,000 square feet of warehouse space.
The company was in a nearby 8,000-square-foot space for just 18 months, before outgrowing it.
Over the years, the inventory has grown from loose tea to tea pots, cups, infusers, a line of baking mixes, jams and chutneys, even soaps.
When the Jahshans, parents to three young children, walked in to face the Dragons, their company was already in the midst of 300 per cent growth. Hatem says they were primarily looking for the advice that would guide a southern expansion.
Since the Dragons came on board, the growth rate has more than doubled.
“I was a tad skeptical about going to the U.S. and so was Jim,” said Chilton. “But I was wrong. They figured it all out.”
Steeped Tea launched in the U.S. in April and has about 200 consultants there now. Tonia says there will easily be 5,000 a year from now.
Hamilton is a great place to locate for a company growing into the U.S., said Treliving.
“Why wouldn’t you want to be in Hamilton? It’s a great city and a great location.”
Though he didn’t name names, he pointed out that coffee giant Tim Hortons got its start in Hamilton, too.
“If we can do as well as that, we’ll be happy,” said Treliving, before Tonia piped in with: “We will.”
Article courtesy of Meredith MacLeod, The Hamilton Spectator
STONEY CREEK A $7-million upgrade to a local steel plant has been completed.
Russel Metals Inc. announced recently it has finished the installation of a new roller at its B&T Steel division here, completing an upgrade that started in November.
The new hydraulic roller leveller is designed to process three-quarters of an inch thick coiled steel up to 72 inches wide on the company’s heavy-gauge production line.
In a news release, the company said the upgrade would allow it “to provide superior quality products with industry leading flatness.”
The latest installation is the second half of a project the company announced last November. The first phase involved installation of a stretcher leveller to its light gauge line.
Russel bills itself as one of the largest metals distribution companies in North America. It does business in the metals service centres, energy products and steel distribution sectors under several names including Russel Metals, A.J. Forsyth, Alberta Industrial Metals, Apex Distribution, B&T Steel, Baldwin International, Comco Pipe and Supply, Fedmet Tubulars and others.
In August, the company reported second quarter profits of $20 million, down from $23 million in the same quarter last year. Revenues in the metals service centre segment slipped 13 per cent to $378 million in the second quarter due to a combination of lower demand and prices.
The Hamilton Spectator
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