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Hamilton Economic Development

Hamilton Highlights Newsletter – May 2016

In the May 2016 edition of Hamilton Highlights…

  • Digital Disruption
  • Lions Announced for 2016 LiON’S LAIR Competition
  • NOSH
  • Tweetstock Tickets Now on Sale
  • Try Hamilton Event Promotes Investment on Barton/Kenilworth

Click here to read the May 2016 Hamilton Highlights newsletter.  If you are interested in signing up for the Hamilton Highlights newsletter, click here.

Entrepreneurs plan new life for abandoned Hamilton factory

A local developer is bringing a Canadian first to Hamilton.

Joe Accardi will bring a long-abandoned central Hamilton factory back to life as a shared work space, this time for industrial entrepreneurs and small businesses looking for cheaper rent and shared services, such as shipping and receiving.

It’s based on an idea Accardi has proven twice in Hamilton with an office space downtown called Co-Motion and another near Gage Park called Platform 302. The new project has been dubbed CoBuild Hamilton.

Accardi’s plans for the former Ball Packaging plant on Victoria Avenue North were a centrepiece of a special Monday tour of Hamilton opportunities for Toronto- and Kitchener-area investors.

Ball Packaging abandoned its Hamilton and Burlington plants more than a decade ago. The Hamilton facility once employed 1,000 people.

“We are going to be amenity-rich in here,” he told the busload of potential investors. “This is a very unique building for Hamilton.”

The CoBuild project is modelled on a similar effort in Denver, Colo.

The vision Accardi laid out for Monday’s economic tourists sees dozens of small and emerging employers sharing 100,000 square feet of space in the first phase. Those companies will be able to share services like shipping and receiving, tools, storage space, an in-house forklift truck and driver, board rooms, and a kitchen, all for $7 per square foot.

About a quarter of the space in the first phase has already been taken.

Early tenants include a laser-cutting company and a machinist, with architects and engineers expected. There’s also room for medical uses given the proximity to the new children’s hospital and cardiac centre at Hamilton General Hospital.

Another building highlighted was the former curling club/skating rink/bus maintenance shed on Hatt Street in Dundas which was given new life as the Shawn and Ed Brewing Company.

Co-owner Ed Madronich said some changes were made to ensure the new use didn’t conflict with its neighbours in the business core or nearby high-end condos.

“Hamilton has a boatload of buildings like this,” Madronich said. “Getting the community back in here and making use of it again has been great.”

One way his company has been able to blend in with its diverse neighbours was with new ideas. For example, rather than venting steam from its brewing kettles to the outside, it is condensed back into water and sent to the city sewer, saving neighbours from what some might say is an offensive odour.

Reviving dormant industrial buildings was only one of several new ideas and companies highlighted during a day-long session designed to change perceptions of Hamilton as a place to invest.

FORKLIFTOne such company was Cinnos/McMaster Computing Infrastructure Research Centre. It has designed a roll-away modular data server, allowing companies that can’t, or won’t, use cloud storage a space to warehouse data without having to pay for a large data centre.

Shared work spaces are only a part of a wave of disruptive change expected to sweep through industrial-commercial real estate in coming years.

It’s a change Sheila Botting, of Deloitte Real Estate, said the industry is not ready for.

As one example, she noted, it may soon be possible to list houses for sale online, completing the deal using a Google format, cutting out Realtors altogether. That has the potential to do to Realtors what Expedia and similar travel booking sites did to travel agents.

More immediately, she said, new ideas about office space are doing away with the traditional ring of private offices around a central space in favour of more collegial areas for new workers who toil outside the old hierarchy.

“The cubicle farm as we’ve known it just isn’t working anymore,” she said.

Article courtesy of Steve Arnold, The Hamilton Spectator

Hamilton Highlights Newsletter – April 2016

In the April 2016 edition of Hamilton Highlights…

  • Red Tape Challenge
  • Relive Hacking Health in Hamilton
  • Tweetstock Back Again in Hamilton
  • Business is All in the Family for Mohawk College

Click here to read the April 2016 Hamilton Highlights newsletter.  If you are interested in signing up for the Hamilton Highlights newsletter, click here.

Hamilton creates new vision for waterfront re-development

Hamilton waterfront urban design planA proposed urban study on Hamilton’s waterfront views piers 7 and 8 as a mix of residential, commercial and institutional developments existing alongside parks, plazas and allowing more public access to the waterfront.

The study, released by the city April 27 so it will be discussed at the monthly community meeting April 28 at the Waterfront Banquet Centre starting at 7 p.m., wants Pier 8 to become “a vibrant urban waterfront neighbourhood” to be compatible with Pier 7.

The proposed plan, which will also be discussed at the May 17 planning committee meeting, includes 1,600 residential units; 13,000-square-meters of commercial and institutional space; 30-metre wide waterfront park along the edge of Pier 8; a new “Green Street” to that connects the property from east to west; a mix of building heights; a centralized garage; a water park, plaza space, skate park and playground, all linked by a complete streets design.

“The area’s re-development is an incredible opportunity for the City to provide continuous public spaces along the West Harbour,” stated the 226-page document.

The document, by consultant Brook McIlroy, stated the “ultimate number of units will be determined through market forces and the detailed designed plan.”

Chris Phillips, senior project planner for the city who has been overseeing the waterfront development, said the idea is to create an environment where people can “live, work and play.”

Mayor Fred Eisenberger has been supportive of what he calls the “higher order development” for the future of the waterfront.

“I want to live long enough to live at Pier 8,” he said.

The city has had visions of a re-developed waterfront since it acquired the lands from the Hamilton Port Authority after a legal battle with the federal government in 2000. In 2014 soon after the city acquired the lands from the HPA when the leases were shortened, Hamilton councillors agreed to invest nearly $40 million over the next four years for sewers, watermains, roads, sidewalks and street lighting. About $13.3 million will be invested directly into piers 5 to 8. City officials have stated there is a potential for the city to recoup about $7.5 million annually in taxes just from the development at Pier 8.

Affordable housing, the document states, is expected to “fit within the building envelopes.”

The consultants recommend constructing the development in three phases, starting with 38,000-square- metres of mixed residential space and 4,800-square-metres of commercial space along Guise Street. Phase 2 will have 25,300-square-metres of residential space, 2,340-square-metres of commercial space, and phase 3 will involve 46,700 square metres, 600 square metres of commercial space and 6,800- square-metres of institutional space.

The proposal will still need get a zoning bylaw to implement the new design, plus a public art plan and infrastructure plan that includes energy and storm water systems.

Article courtesy of Kevin Werner, Hamilton Community News

Hamilton Highlights Newsletter – March 2016

In the March 2016 edition of Hamilton Highlights…

  • Welcome Back Big Blue
  • The World Visits Hamilton
  • Hamilton’s Economy Gets National Attention
  • Hamilton’s Walters Group Receives National Accolade
  • Applications Open for the 6th Annual LiON’s Lair Competition

Click here to read the March 2016 Hamilton Highlights newsletter.  If you are interested in signing up for the Hamilton Highlights newsletter, click here.

Foodies spend the day eating their way through Hamilton

Photo of octopus stew at Wild Orchid RestaurantCameras snapped. Oohh’s and aahh’s rose from the crowd. It was like a red carpet photo call — one where the star was a mini martini glass filled with raw fish.

In the foodie world, it’s what passes for celebrity. Especially when the eatery serving it up is the first of its kind in Canada.

Pokeh Bar, which makes poke (a Hawaiian dish built around rice and fish) is a new vendor at the Hamilton Farmers’ Market. It was just one of nearly a dozen stops on a Saturday afternoon food tour organized by economic development and the Hamilton offices of Trip Central.

According to Michael Marini, co-ordinator of marketing for the City of Hamilton, this was the fourth such trip to get GTA-area chefs, restaurateurs and food bloggers excited about eating in Hamilton.

It worked. On Saturday, #HamOntFT started trending on Twitter as a pack of 14, including bloggers, journalists, and Ticat Pete Dyakowski, tweeted the food tour as it moved from NaRoma, to Wild Orchid, to Aberdeen Tavern and beyond.

For Solmaz Khosrowshahian, who blogs at The Curious Creature, it was her fourth time on one of the tours, which visit new restaurants each time.

Khosrowshahian, who lives in Toronto, had spent some time in Hamilton years ago, and had heard about the city’s food scene recently. When Marini contacted her for the first food tour, she jumped at the chance. Now, she tells everyone she knows about Hamilton.

“I had never really seen the real Hamilton until I saw it through food,” she said.

“It’s really cool to see how quickly food can change a community,” she said, pointing out the foot traffic drawn by new restaurants including Auntie Boom’s, The Cannon Coffee Co., and Except for Kenneth.

She’s also amazed by the number of options, in terms of both places to eat and ethnic diversity. What she finds most impressive though, is the authenticity. She said Hamilton chefs have a passion for food that comes across in a way it doesn’t in other cities. Here, it’s raw. It’s uncontrived.

Sharon Mendelaoui agreed.

“We need a market like this in Toronto,” said Mendelaoui, who writes for Dream Travel Magazine.

Sure, there’s the St. Lawrence Market. But, she said, it doesn’t feel like family the way the Hamilton Farmers’ Market does.

On top of that, Mendelaoui said she was charmed by the number of distinct villages in the city, the neighbourhoods the tour moved through as they travelled. She said she was thinking about coming back for another day, but even that didn’t seem like it would be enough to cover it.

Article courtesy of Amy Kenny, The Hamilton Spectator

Hot Hamilton: Economic growth to outpace national average

Photo of new GO Station in Hamilton A new Conference Board of Canada study says Hamilton’s economic surge will outpace the national average this year, but job growth will remain slow.

The board’s latest Metropolitan Outlook Report predicts the Hamilton-Burlington- Grimsby economy will grow about 2.2 per cent this year, outpacing the national growth rate for the second consecutive year.

The growth will be driven chiefly by improvements in the manufacturing and non-residential construction sectors.

Employment, however, will grow by only 2,800 jobs this year after advancing by 3,600 positions last year.

“I would characterize the outlook for Hamilton as generally positive,” said Alan Arcand, associate director of municipal studies for the Conference Board. “It’s not world-beating, but it’s still better than the national average.

“It really seems that some of the factors are turning in Hamilton’s favour,” he added. “Employment gains will be OK this year and next, but not great,” he said. “Growth in jobs is going to be fairly slow this year and next.”

Manufacturing growth will be led by companies such as water filtration firm Fibracast, and ArcelorMittal Dofasco — which is looking for 1,000 new employees to replace retiring baby boomers.

Predicted growth for this year will rank Hamilton as the 11th fastest growing metropolitan economy in the country.

To Mayor Fred Eisenberger, that’s a good position.

“It’s almost in the Top 10 and shows our growth has been consistent over the last few years,” he said. “The uptick on the manufacturing side is especially good news because that’s assessment we need to take the pressure off our residential taxpayers.”

He also liked the prediction that they city’s unemployment rate will come in below the national average.

“I think this all affirms the good vibes that people are feeling about Hamilton,” he said.

Frank McKeown, executive director of the Burlington Economic Development Corporation, said the study’s conclusions match the city’s projections.

“This is consistent with our observations for growth that will higher than the national average,” he said. “Almost everyone I talk to is looking at a growth environment.”

The Conference Board report says even with U.S. Steel moving a quarter of the potential production of its Hamilton plant to the United States, manufacturing output is forecast to grow by 2.4 per cent this year as the lower loonie makes Canadian exports more affordable and American demand rises as the economy south of the border improves.

Adding to that is a refocusing of Canada’s economy from western oil and other natural resources back to industry in Ontario.

The other major growth engine for Hamilton, the report concludes, will be non-residential construction, including a new general purpose and engineering centre at McMaster University and the second phase of the James Street North GO station.

Services output growth will remain steady at 2.1 per cent for a third consecutive year.

Article courtesy of Steve Arnold, The Hamilton Spectator

Hamilton Highlights Newsletter – February 2016

In the February 2016 edition of Hamilton Highlights…

  • Success in the City – Get Your Tickets
  • Hamilton Makes National News (Three Times in One Week)
  • ELEV8 Pitch Night to Showcase Local Startup Talent
  • Embrace UX Conference Coming to Hamilton

Click here to read the February 2016 Hamilton Highlights newsletter.  If you are interested in signing up for the Hamilton Highlights newsletter, click here.

Colombian Business Opportunities Seminar

hamilton

Can small businesses afford to pay employees a living wage? This bakery owner thinks so

Josie Rudderham can’t live on $11.25 an hour and she doesn’t think her bakery staff should have to, either.

“It’s under the poverty line,” said Ms. Rudderham, co-owner of the Cake and Loaf bakery in Hamilton. “These are people I have to work with every day and I have to look them in the face.”

When Ms. Rudderham and her partner, Nicole Miller, started the bakery five years ago, their goal was to funnel profits into wages so that they could afford to pay more than Ontario’s minimum.

“I’m the child of two social workers so I’m a bit of a socialist at heart,” she said. “I wanted to provide meaningful employment for people – jobs people could stay at and still have families and still go on vacations and still buy houses.”

Rudderham and Miller wanted to pay staff at least $14.95 an hour – the living wage for Hamilton based on calculations set for 2014 by the Ontario Living Wage Network and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

The calculation, made every two years, includes groceries, rent, a transit pass, child care and extended health insurance for a family of four when both parents are working and making that wage.

It doesn’t include saving for retirement, paying off debt, taking vacations or buying a home. In Ontario, 80 businesses have signed declarations saying they intend to pay employers a living wage.

“It’s a fairly frugal calculation,” said Tom Cooper, co-ordinator of the Ontario Living Wage Network. “It reflects what people need to earn just to get by.”

Ms. Rudderham and Ms. Miller couldn’t afford to pay staff that right away, but last October the two “felt we were financially ready.”

The bakery increased wages for their 17 staff members to $15 to $18 an hour from $12 to $15. Managers earn more.

There wasn’t much of an initial reaction, Ms. Rudderham said. “It wasn’t that they rushed out and thanked us or anything,” she said. “We said, ‘We need you all to help us accomplish this because we have to meet certain sales goals.’ ”

But staffers with two jobs were able to quit their second jobs and came in less tired, Ms. Rudderham said.

Even though December is the bakery’s hardest month with long hours and a lot of stress, “productivity went way up,” she said. “It was subtle and people just seemed happier.”

The conventional wisdom is that when businesses raise wages, that raises their production costs and then they have to raise prices – and then they get beaten out by their competitors and have to lay off staff, said David A. Green, an economics professor at the University of British Columbia.

But that doesn’t seem to be the case, he said. Research shows that after minimum wages are increased, companies do hire less. But that applies only to teen workers, he said. “Once you get past 20-year-olds, the end result is that the employment rate has not really changed.”

Surprisingly, research also shows that when the minimum wage goes up, the likelihood of a business laying off a worker in the next year actually goes down.

“We think it comes down to the idea that you can operate a firm in the same industry in very different ways,” Prof. Green said. “Places like Costco, Lee Valley Tools and In-N-Out Burger in the U.S. have a reputation of taking care of their employees and intuitively, you think they’ll get beaten out by places that don’t, like Walmart – but they don’t.”

If you pay low wages, you save on labour costs day to day, but you get high turnover and employees who have no real reason to make your company succeed, he said.

“If you work at a place where you think there’s a future, you have better morale,” Prof. Green said.

Becky Reuber, a professor of strategic management at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, thinks that paying a higher wage gives a small business a better chance of hiring – and keeping – good employees.

She doesn’t think a wage hike would guarantee better work from every employee. “If you’re doing this to have people become part of the team and stay longer, then you want to make sure you’re giving a raise to someone who’s good and not someone who’s calling in sick all the time or has weak customer skills,” she said.

As long as a business has the cash flow to afford it, paying higher wages sounds like a “win-win,” Prof. Reuber said.

But it costs more to live in some places and that will raise labour costs for businesses that want to pay living wages there, Prof. Reuber said. In Toronto, the 2015 living wage is $18.52 an hour. In Vancouver, it’s $20.68 an hour.

Ms. Rudderham, who hopes to eventually pay staffers $20 an hour, said giving workers more is “fundamentally a matter of priorities.”

“There are a lot of businesses where there’s a lot of profit being made and it could be distributed to employees,” she said.

Article courtesy of Jason Tchir, The Globe & Mail

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