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Hamilton Economic Development

Hamilton planting an artistic seed in the Baltic

Estonia isn’t the sort of place that comes up in conversation when local artists sit down over coffee at the Mulberry.

The kind of chit chat that goes, “Have you heard what they’re doing with digital manipulation at the Estonian Institute of Humanities?”

Or even, “I met the most darling transhuman ethicist from the University of Tartu the other day.”

That may all change due to an extraordinary new collaboration between the Hamilton Arts Council, The Cotton Factory and the Estonian Artists Association, which is based in Tallinn, the tiny Baltic nation’s capital.

It’s an artist exchange. They send us one of theirs for a one-month residency and we send them one of ours. The plan is to make it an annual event.

Tor Lukasik-Foss, one of Hamilton’s better known multi-genre artists, will venture to Estonia in September to create new work, deliver talks and mingle with fellow artists, maybe even have a beer with them.

Lukasik-Foss, who is of Norwegian descent, has never been to Estonia and knows none of its language, but feels confident he will be able to express himself through art.

Lukasik-Foss works in multiple forms of visual art, but is also a songwriter who performs under the name Tiny Bill Cody. He’s already thinking about working traditional Baltic themes into his own unique way of storytelling.

“I want to do some songwriting while I’m there, contemporizing myth and folk tale as the basis,” says Lukasik-Foss, who will take a month-long leave from his job as director of programs and education at the Art Gallery of Hamilton. “I’m hoping to write, perform and be as collaborative as possible.”

So far, the Estonians are one ahead of us in terms of the exchange. Last October, they sent multimedia artist Marko Mäetamm, who spent a month working on new projects in a studio provided by The Cotton Factory and giving artist talks.

The experiment was considered a success and Mäetamm is returning in Hamilton for an exhibition of his art at the b contemporary gallery on James Street North from Sept. 4 to 29.

While Lukasik-Foss is in Estonia wowing the locals, Estonian artist Peeter Laurits, who works in photography and digital manipulation, will be working in Hamilton’s Cotton Factory.

The exchange is the brainchild of Robert Zeidler, a Toronto transplant who bought the century-old Imperial Cotton building on Sherman North in 2014 for $4.7 million, renovated it, and turned it into a workspace for more than 110 artists, crafts workers, fashion designers, film and music makers.

Since his investment, Zeidler has become a huge advocate and patron of the Hamilton arts scene.

For the past year, he has set aside one studio for an “artist in residence” program, which provides free rent for two emerging artists over a three-month period.

The residencies are juried by the Hamilton Arts Council, with Zeidler eating the rental cost. So far nine young artists have benefited from the program. (The current artists — Stylo Starr, who specializes in collage, and Tanya Denyer, a quilter — will hold an artists’ talk on June 14, 7 p.m., at the The Cotton Factory).

“It’s been a big success and we think it’s going to continue to be a success,” says Zeidler. “It allows young artists to stay in Hamilton and not go seeking a residency in another city like Toronto.”

Last year, Zeidler decided to broaden the residency’s horizon to include an international exchange component. But with what country?

He started doing research and discovered a lively artistic community in Estonia, population less than 1.4 million.

“The whole Baltic art scene is exploding right now and has been for the last 15 years,” says Zeidler. “And because the country is so small, the artists have to have an international perspective. To be successful, they have to get out and be international.”

Zeidler met the Estonian ambassador to Canada and was even more impressed.

“She came to Hamilton to visit the local Estonian community,” he says. “I was quite inspired by her. She spoke about the arts and freedom, and I thought, this is exactly who we need to partner with.”

Zeidler’s Cotton Factory funded Mäetamm’s trip here last year, including his flight, apartment rent, and a weekly honorarium.

The Cotton Factory is doing the same for Lukasik-Foss and Laurits, as well as a trip to Estonia next in mid-June by Hamilton Arts Council executive director Annette Paiement.

The Arts Council is responsible for selecting the Hamilton participants in the exchange, making sure things run smoothly on the Estonian end, as well as helping to find new sources of funding.

“I’ll be making sure that the residency is set up well for Tor when he arrives in September,” Paiement says. “The goal is to create good relations, to investigate other possible opportunities and partnerships so that we can keep the program going and expand it over many years.”

Article courtesy of Graham Rockingham, The Hamilton Spectator

Hamilton Highlights Newsletter – May 2018

In the May edition of Hamilton Highlights…

  • May a Huge Month for AI in Hamilton
  • Hamilton as an Intelligent Community
  • Find New Employees Faster and Easier
  • Hamilton marks National Tourism Week with Salute to Tourism
  • Liquid Arts Fest

Click here to read the May 2018 Hamilton Highlights newsletter.  If you are interested in signing up for the Hamilton Highlights newsletter, click here.

CN places another order with Hamilton’s National Steel Car

CN Rail is placing its second order with National Steel Car in less than a month — a move that is expected to result in the creation of more than 300 new, full-time jobs.

The order for 1,000 new grain hopper cars over the next two years will help replace aging equipment needed to serve increasing annual crop yields, the railway company said in a news release.

Earlier this month, CN announced it was buying 350 lumber cars from National Steel Car to help meet the growing demand for forest products across the continent.

These 73-foot cars will be manufactured at the rail carmaker’s assembly plant in Hamilton, which is expected to lead to the hiring of at least 250 people.

“Coupled with CN’s order for 350 centrebeam lumber cars, this additional 1,000 grain car purchase will result in the hiring of more than 550 additional people at our Hamilton facility, which currently employees over 1,500,” said National Steel Car chairman and CEO Gregory Aziz in a news release.

Production on the first order is set to begin in August, Hal Bruckner, vice-president of human resources for National Steel Car, previously said in an email.

Deliveries for that order are expected to begin in September and wrap up by the end of the year.

Article courtesy of The Hamilton Spectator

CN investing in 1,000 new generation grain hopper cars to renew fleet and meet long-term needs of farmers

CN Media Release (PDF)

Amazon, Nokia invest in Hamilton incubator focused on autonomous vehicle research

Money and in-kind services will go to new autonomous vehicle and ‘smart city’ incubator headed by Innovation Factory.

Industry heavyweights Amazon and Nokia are offering millions of dollars to help develop an autonomous vehicle and “smart city” lab at McMaster Innovation Park.

The private investment of cash and in-kind services, worth $4.3 million over five years, comes just weeks after the province tapped Hamilton’s Innovation Factory and its partners as one of six “regional technology development sites” across Ontario. Those sites will share $80 million for autonomous vehicle research and related transportation infrastructure.

The MIP-based tech and innovation incubator expects to focus on how autonomous vehicles will affect multimodal transportation and the design of “smart cities,” said executive director David Carter.

“We’re seeing some pretty significant investment in this effort, so we’re pretty excited,” said Carter. “We’re basically going to be able to build and experiment with a private smart city environment … like city infrastructure in a box.”

The companies announced their support during an industry event Tuesday in Toronto, Carter said. The Spectator was unable to immediately reach company spokespeople for comment.

Carter said Amazon Web Services announced $1-million worth of “product credits” for cloud-based, in-kind services. Basically, that will allow startup companies and entrepreneurs to experiment using Amazon-based software and tools at no cost, or access expertise from company engineers.

He said Nokia’s $3.3-million commitment will help create a private 5G cellular network for the innovation hub as well as a lab featuring real-world infrastructure.

Carter used the idea of “smart” street lights with artificial intelligence aimed at monitoring traffic and preventing accidents as a theoretical example of what might end up in such a lab.

“Obviously, we can’t go to the City of Hamilton and ask to play with their street lights,” he said. “This (lab) will allow us to experiment with what a modern city environment might look like.”

Carter said he cannot yet reveal Hamilton’s share of the $80 million on offer from the provincially funded Ontario Centres of Excellence.

But Innovation Factory is partnering as a regional tech development site with the city, Mohawk College and McMaster University.

Three McMaster University applied researchers will be involved with the autonomous vehicle lab, variously focusing on software development, evolving transportation systems and powertrains, said Nick Markettos, interim CEO for the McMaster Innovation Park.

The regional tech site will operate out of the MIP atrium on Longwood Road as well as the nearby McMaster Automotive Resource Centre. Markettos said he expected Innovation Factory to expand within the existing footprint of the park.

Article courtesy of Matthew Van Dongen, The Hamilton Spectator

City conducting annual business employment survey

City of Hamilton summer students are hitting the streets once again with the annual employment business survey.

Survey results help inform how the municipality can best support local business by planning for future facilities, initiatives and planning issues across the city.

The city conducts the survey every year to look for business growth, trends and changes.

The survey data helps the city monitor the extent, nature and location of employment and land use and changing economic conditions, as well as track the effectiveness of local employment initiatives.

Having current information allows the city to address immediate and long-term planning development and issues.

The survey can also be completed online at hamilton.ca/employmentsurvey.

For more information, call 905-546-2424 ext. 1292.

Hamilton, Mac & law firm Gowling are helping startups make their way in the world

A unique partnership between McMaster University, the city of Hamilton, and an international law firm is aiming to help “start ups” in the city get off the ground and profit.

There are some really cool projects at the McMaster Automotive Resource Centre. Joel Roeleveld is a research engineer with McMaster who says the the partnership could help a lot of local ideas.

“New motors and motor technology we hopefully think will revolutionize high-efficiency and robust motors.”

All used in the creation of hybrid race cars that were built at MARC.

“Those cars are student build cars, 90% of the components are hand built by the students.”

“The one thing that the university has is a lot of great ideas on the we can bring it to a certain stage,” says Gay Yuyitung, and industry liason for McMaster University, “but takes a village to create successful companies.”

That’s where the law firm “Gowling” comes in.

“What we’re trying to do is facilitate connections between those businesses so that they might become aware of McMaster and Hamilton and it’s economy, become it’s customers, suppliers, lenders, with a view to helping this area along.” says Louis Frapporti, managing partner at Glowing WLG’s Hamilton office.

The partnership is in the early stages but already engineers at McMaster can imagine the financial benefits. The end goal of the partnership is to launch new technology from Hamilton, attract business here, and even bring top notch engineers to the city and university.

Article courtesy of CHCH

Hamilton Highlights Newsletter – April 2018

In the April edition of Hamilton Highlights…

  • Are You One of the Fast 40?
  • Success Makers
  • Raise the Barcode
  • Meet the Future of Ontario’s Advanced Manufacturing Supercluster
  • Hamilton Welcomes Ontario Chamber of Commerce to the City
  • Art as an Economic Driver

Click here to read the April 2018 Hamilton Highlights newsletter.  If you are interested in signing up for the Hamilton Highlights newsletter, click here.

ICF judge lauds Hamilton’s collaboration

Robert Bell toured the city to assess whether it is the most “intelligent” in the world.

A judge who toured Hamilton to determine whether it is the most “intelligent” community in the world said the city is an “astounding” place and its citizens recognize that.

“There’s a real pride here,” said Robert Bell, co-founder of the Intelligent Community Forum, a U.S.-based think tank founded 15 years ago that studies and promotes the world’s best cities and how those models can be reproduced elsewhere.

“The number of people I’ve talked to who’ve said, ‘I’m a lifelong Hamiltonian, and boy this is just the greatest place on the planet.'”

“That’s what I expect to hear in an ‘Intelligent Community,'” he added.

Bell spent two-and-a-half days this week touring the city, which made ICF’s top-seven list last fall after first making the Smart 21 list the year prior.

He made several stops, including at Hamilton’s Central Library, McMaster University and Mohawk College.

Bell, who called the library “very impressive of its kind”, noted it is “the nerve centre for collaboration” when it comes to organizations working with at-risk youth, newcomers and seniors by introducing them to technology, opportunity and education.

“They have successfully redefined themselves not as a place with books but as a place that’s about knowledge,” he said.

As for McMaster and Mohawk, he noted the connection between the university and college is “world class.”

“The deep collaboration between those two institutions happens almost nowhere,” Bell added.

Rob McCann, president and founder of Clearcable — one of the founding private sector members of ICF Canada — stressed the competition is not about technology but how these advancements can make things better for citizens.

Being in the running for “Most Intelligent Community” isn’t just about trying to achieve the designation, it’s about the steps the community takes to try and get there, he added.

“The journey is discovering what you have in your community and then promoting that to everybody else.”

Now that Bell has finished his tour, he will write a report about his experience that will be passed on to an international jury. From there, they will rank the seven communities, and ICF’s “Intelligent Community of the Year” will be revealed in June in London, England.

Some of the factors the judges consider is broadband infrastructure, a knowledge workforce, digital equality, sustainability and advocacy.

In addition to Hamilton, the other contenders in the top seven include Chiayi City, Taiwan; Espoo, Finland; Ipswich, Australia; Tainan City, Taiwan; Taoyuan, Taiwan; and Winnipeg, Manitoba.

The competition is tough, said Bell, but after visiting Hamilton, he believes it is an “incredibly impressive place.”

“I don’t know many other cities of a half million people … who are in your class,” he said.

Article courtesy of Natalie Paddon, The Hamilton Spectator

Hamilton Highlights Newsletter – March 2018

In the March edition of Hamilton Highlights…

  • Fraunhofer Makes It Official
  • Food and Beverage Excellence in Hamilton
  • Supercluster Win for Hamilton
  • Competition Season in Hamilton
  • Be Part of the Supply Chain

Click here to read the March 2018 Hamilton Highlights newsletter.  If you are interested in signing up for the Hamilton Highlights newsletter, click here.

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