Hamilton Economic Development

Hamilton ready for post-Steeltown boom as loonie continues to sink

HAMILTON—For Graeme Smith, cheese is the new steel.

The laid-off steelworker-turned-entrepreneur serves gourmet grilled cheese to former co-workers at the restaurant he opened on gentrifying Ottawa St., in the shadow of Hamilton’s steel mills.

When Smith landed a job at Stelco in 2006, a year before it became the now-insolvent U.S. Steel Canada, he believed he landed a lifelong career like his father, who worked at the mill for 38 years.

“But the writing was on the wall,” he said.

He was laid off within a year of the new ownership’s takeover, and used Ontario’s Second Career Program to go to culinary school, where he developed a business plan for his 20-year dream to open “Gorilla Cheese.” His concept became Hamilton’s first food truck in 2011, and a permanent part of its re-invigorated restaurant scene in November.

His story is emblematic of Hamilton’s newfound narrative: the scrappy community that pulled itself up by the bootstraps to prove there is life after Steeltown.

Even as a U.S. recovery and low Canadian dollar breathe new life into the city’s manufacturing sector, Hamilton is focused on diversifying the local economy away from its former dependence on heavy manufacturing, the fate of which is largely determined by global cycles beyond its control.

The port city’s steel-driven manufacturing base — once the Canadian home to a who’s who of industrial leaders from Westinghouse to Procter and Gamble — has shed some 25,000 jobs since 1976, as major employers lost out to new cheap global competitors amid the rise of the Canadian dollar.

“We were in desperate need of diversifying the economy and growing the economic base,” said Neil Everson, City of Hamilton economic development director.

The realization came at an auspicious moment — just before the 2008-2009 recession battered the city’s manufacturing sector, sending output down 16 per cent in 2009.

City hall believes that this focus on diversification is one of the major reasons Hamilton weathered the recessionary storm as well as it did, and even managed to post lower unemployment rates than the provincial or Canadian averages.

Hamilton has been rated Canada’s most diverse city economy by the Conference Board of Canada, which expects it to make strides in economic growth, employment and personal income levels over the next three years.

The city’s transformation away from a reliance on one dominant sector can be a lesson for oil-dependent communities that are smarting from a crude downturn, Everson said.

The principle is deceptively simple: “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”

But execution has been less easy. The public sector is the new economic driving force, and the city needs private companies to create more of that growth, Everson said. Hamilton ranked just 67th out of 121 Canadian cities on a Canadian Federation of Independent Business survey of best communities for entrepreneurship.

Steel is still the biggest private-sector employer here. Even if Hamilton’s fortunes are less susceptible to the ebb and flow of the commodities market, manufacturing is still a giant piece of its economic puzzle. The sector is expected to drive municipal growth this year, as a low loonie makes Ontario-made goods cheaper and a U.S. recovery spurs demand.

The city’s steel manufacturers are part of a rebound in Ontario auto part shipments to the U.S. over the past six months. ArcelorMittal Dofasco plans to hire 1,000 workers over the next three years. U.S. Steel Canada, which is mostly shuttered and has slashed its workforce, has been recalling workers in recent weeks.

National Steel Car, which makes railroad cargo containers, laid off 520 workers just before Christmas when it shut its oil tanker line due to a slowdown in orders. But 300 of those workers have been recalled to work instead on two additional freight lines where orders are picking up, partly thanks to a low dollar. It expects to have all of the workers back by March and even plans to hire.

While the City is encouraged by a rebound in it traditional manufacturing base, it is more excited about the opportunity that the low loonie provides to attract new foreign investment in the sectors it’s focused on, including advanced manufacturing, life sciences and technology.

Advanced Hamilton-based manufacturers have succeeded by focusing on knowledge-based, value-added production to give them an advantage over lower-cost competitors.

A multitude of smaller players are in expansion mode, including waste water filter company Fibracast and autoparts maker Stackpole. They employ hundreds rather than thousands of people, but combined they have helped the city to more than make up the jobs lost in heavy industry.

Output from the city’s manufacturing sector is expected to increase by two per cent in 2016, thanks in part to the growing food processing business, led by a Maple Leaf Foods super-plant and investments from major agricultural players at the port.

Much of Hamilton’s economic diversity relies on the growth of “eds and meds” sectors, a focus that is a popular route to economic development for recovering Rust Belt cities. The research-focused health care industry is now the city’s biggest employer, providing some 20,000 jobs, while education is its fastest-growing sector.

The information and cultural industries, which have grown since the city became an affordable destination for artists in the 2000s, is another of the city’s fastest growing sectors. The Conference Board projects that a low loonie will make it an even more attractive location for film shoots.

To passersby, Hamilton’s economic renaissance has been overshadowed by the factories spewing smoke over the Burlington Skyway, clouding a transformation inside the city that Ontario’s economic development minister has touted as a role model for recovery.

But now an increasing number of Toronto developers and families are ready to invest in Hamilton’s skyrocketing, but much more affordable, real estate market.

“We were the city that people drove by and see the smoke stacks and went ‘Oh, what a dirty city’,” said Smith, sitting at a table in his little grilled cheese shop, giving a knowing smile toward the steel mills at the end of the street.

“But people from Hamilton are happy being the little kept secret because we’re happy with what we’ve got here.”

The businesses

Hamilton has more than made up for the loss of manufacturing jobs by adding to the workforce in the knowledge-based sectors it’s focused on. Its average unemployment rate was 5.4 per cent in 2015, less than the average in Canada or Ontario, and it’s lowest since 1976.

On the lakeshore, the Hamilton Port Authority desperately needs land to meet the growing demand for space from a steadily rising base of agri-business customers that surround steel company lands.

“We’ve been almost using a shoehorn now to bring in new customers and fitting them all into the footprint we’ve got,” said the port’s vice-president Ian Hamilton.

The port has seen about $200 million in investment from agri-companies in the past five years. In addition to a sugar refinery and a new craft brewery, construction is underway for a third grain terminal and a new flour mill.

Attracting agricultural tenants was an intentional strategy by the port to offset some of the losses from shipping steel-related products it was seeing in 2007.

“We recognized we were too dependent, we just didn’t recognize we were going to lose that chunk of business, that we were going to be filling this void.”

Agriculture hasn’t filled the entire 4 million tonne loss from the steel business, but has replaced about half.

Hamilton anticipates demand for shipping cargo to the U.S. will grow further due to the lower dollar. But he believes it will take another half a year to see the real opportunities arise.

Hamilton’s port, the busiest on the Canadian side of the Great Lakes, has 130 tenants on long-term leases and just 27 acres of vacant land, compared to 200 acres in 2007. The port has expressed interest in buying at least some of the parcel of adjacent U.S. Steel land.

“That’s one of our challenges now with the success is we just don’t have the land to meet that demand going forward.”

Here’s a look at how other Hamiltonians are building the new economy:

Information technology

Waterloo doesn’t own tech, said David Carter, executive director of Hamilton’s Innovation Factory. But without a startup incubator of Hamilton’s own, the city risked losing a lot of “interesting collisions” — with health care, advanced manufacturing and other burgeoning sectors — to the city an hour away.

The Forge incubator opened its doors in January 2015 and houses about a dozen young companies in various stages of development — from QCard, an app designed to help people with cognitive impairments remember tasks, to Chipsetter, a low-cost microchip machine for companies to make small batch circuit boards.

Hamilton may not have a RIM yet, Carter said, but “it’s not hard to see a generation here that in five years will be significant employers.”

Nix Sensors Inc. grew from engineering student Matthew Sheridan’s house through the incubator into an eight-person team. Sheridan, now CEO, moved the company briefly to Waterloo. He had offers to move into programs in Boston and San Francisco, but decided to return to Hamilton. “There’s no shortage of talent here, and definitely no shortage of community support as well.”

Creative industries

Erin Dunham was always going to Toronto to eat because Hamilton had few independent restaurants where she wanted to hang out. So she opened one — and then four more. Dunham and partner Matt Kershaw own Other Bird food group, which opened Rapscallion Rogue Eatery, one of Hamilton’s hottest restaurants, four years ago. Since then, their team has grown from five to 70 people.

The growth of the creative industries, spurred by an influx of artists into the city since the new millennium, has sparked a grassroots scene that has helped the city’s “cool factor” she said. Art Crawl, a decentralized once-a-month art show, spawned the award-winning Supercrawl festival which now attracts more than 130,000 visitors.

“It’s all very much spontaneous, it’s not being centrally organized but it’s all happening,” said Rob Zeidler a developer who recently converted a turn-of-the- 20th-century Imperial Cotton factory into an affordable workspace hub that houses 60 artists, filmmakers and fashion designers.

“The art scene has become the symbol of the revitalization of Hamilton.”

Life sciences

Hamilton’s health sector is the city’s biggest employer. It grew by eight per cent over the past five years. McMaster University, Hamilton Health Sciences and St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton have won global awards and recognition for research capabilities. The sector attracts more than $200 million in research revenue annually.

The industry’s economic impact could be even greater if the group can bridge a gap between innovation, research and commercialization, said Rob MacIsaac, CEO of Hamilton Health Sciences.

The next step is to create more partnerships with the private sector, to spin off private companies to help sell products and services being developed in Hamilton around the world. There are currently about 300 life sciences companies operating within Hamilton, but a relatively small presence of multinational companies.One recent international collaboration will see Germany’s Fraunhofer, Europe’s largest applied research organization, partner with McMaster University to create the Biomedical Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing research facility, which will focus on regenerative medicine, cell therapies and innovative diagnostics.

Real estate

Hamilton is one of the hottest markets in the country, fuelled in part by Torontonians moving west because they’re priced out of the market in the big city. Home prices in Hamilton rose by nearly 10 per cent in 2015, about the same as in Toronto. But prices are about half as much, with the average hovering around $363,000.

Vanessa Perry and her husband reluctantly moved back to the city where they grew up from Toronto three years ago, when she was pregnant with their first child. But they are converted.

“Hamilton was really starting to make a big change so on our return to Hamilton we started to see a lot more local small businesses opened up, new restaurants, condo conversions and it really just seemed like there was a whole different vibe.”

Now, as a real estate agent in Hamilton, Perry serves clients in similar situations. Perry said Hamilton is starting to see an increase in bidding wars and sales of homes for above asking price. Prices in her area near Gage Park have risen nearly $100,000 in the three years they’ve been there.

Advanced manufacturing

ArcelorMittal Dofasco continues to hire and invest in its Hamilton harbour facility, telling a starkly different story from its competitor next door, where U.S. Steel sits mainly idle and on the verge of collapse. “Make no mistake, steel is still a very, very important economic engine in the city of Hamilton,” said Sean Donnelly, president and CEO ArcelorMittal Dofasco.

The Canadian division of the global steel giant is a bright spot for the world’s largest steelmaker and recently invested $120 million in a new line for advanced high strength steel for the auto and construction industries.

Still, it is the quiet local manufacturing successes like Ancaster-headquartered specialized oil pump maker Stackpole that have stepped in to fill the void left by industrial giants that, unlike Dofasco, have left the city.

The company employs about 700 people in Ancaster and is expanding its powdered metals plant by about one-third to meet current demand and plan for new business it expects to win as North American auto sales heat up. “Stackpole makes things on vehicles that I wouldn’t consider to be commodity parts — that you can just buy a lot cheaper overseas. There’s a lot of intellectual property involved in what we do,” said Paul Bartel, general manager of the Ancaster division.

Article courtesy of Sunny Freeman, The Toronto Star

Food is the new steel at Hamilton’s Lake Ontario ports

Amid a rout in global steel markets, the port that serves Canada’s steel town has found a new focus: food.

“Agriculture is the new steel,” says Ian Hamilton, vice-president with the Hamilton Port Authority, which owns or manages 600 acres of land at the western tip of Lake Ontario.

Mr. Hamilton (yes, that’s his name) is overstating things: He knows grain terminals and large crops will never replace the thousands of steel-industry jobs Hamilton has lost.

But there’s a new optimism at the port, driven by the construction of a third grain terminal, a new flour mill and the recent arrival of a handful of agri-food companies, including a sugar refinery and two craft breweries.

In the past five years, the number of agri-food companies at the port has grown to about 14 amid more than $200-million of investments.

Elsie Lynch, co-owner of port restaurant Two Cougars and a Cafe, has seen this shift firsthand.

“We used to get business from this side,” said Ms. Lynch, waving a hand toward the steel mills, “now we get it from this side.” She is pointing at the north end of the port. That’s where the food companies are clustered, occupying the piers, sheds and warehouses that used to be home to steel makers and metal recyclers.

“Business is still good,” said Ms. Lynch, glancing at a dining room that is three-quarters full late in the morning. Diners wear ball caps and coveralls, and no one seems fussed by the sign at the door that reads No muddy boots.

Since 2009, the amount of grain and fertilizer moving through the Port of Hamilton has more than doubled to 1.7 million tonnes in 2015, making up the volume lost to the steel industry, the port says. Agriculture now accounts for about 18 per cent of the port’s volume.

Meanwhile, steel-related shipments – iron ore, coal and coke – account for 60 per cent of volumes, down from 74 per cent in 2009.

The Hamilton waterfront is famous for the blackened lands and smog-belching steel mills that serve the once-mighty Ontario manufacturing sector. Ore and coal still arrive by ship from the mines of eastern Quebec, but Hamilton’s steel output has plunged amid slumping global demand and cheaper supplies from China.

Stelco, now known as U.S. Steel Canada, is in bankruptcy protection and has halted steel production. Next door is ArcelorMittal Dofasco, which churns out a yearly 4.5 million tonnes of steel and employs 5,400, even as its parent posts an $8-billion (U.S.) loss amid falling prices.

“We need two things in Hamilton: We need jobs and we need [tax] revenue. It’s been very difficult [since Stelco fell into bankruptcy],” said entrepreneur Ron Foxcroft, owner of Fluke Transport, which moved its main operations to the port six years ago. Fluke now rents 400,000 square feet in warehouse space from the port and operates 500 trailers that carry consumer goods – no steel, no auto parts.

Despite the troubles in the steel business, it remains the port’s biggest industry and its biggest revenue generator. But agriculture is the port’s fastest-growing business and has become the second-largest, measured by cargo tonnage and revenue.

For growers, the rise of a new agri-food hub offers new markets for their crops. “Investments in agriculture, particularly grains, are always something we support and are pleased to see,” says Barry Senft, head of Grain Farmers of Ontario, which represents the corn and soybean growers that dominate the farmland in Southwestern Ontario.

McKeil Marine Ltd., which has operated tug boats in the harbour for decades, is among the shipowners adding ships to move grain. The booming agriculture business at the port has helped the company thrive in a tough economic climate, said Blair McKeil, son of the company’s founder.

In 2007, the year the failed Stelco was bought by U.S. Steel, the port’s leaders took a hard look at its list of tenants, which was dominated by steel makers and related businesses. The port began approaching agricultural companies – grain shippers and fertilizer distributors – and pitching the port’s strong points: access to the St. Lawrence Seaway and two major railroads, the nearby system of highways and the U.S. border.

“It’s a great location,” said Derek Jamieson, president of P&H Milling Group, the Parrish & Heimbecker subsidiary building a $45-million (Canadian) flour mill that will process Western Canadian wheat for Ontario bakeries.

“Once you start to get known as a hub, they come to you,” the port’s Mr. Hamilton said, seated in a corner office at its waterfront headquarters. “We’re squeezing people in now.”

On this day, shipping on the seaway is closed for the season and the only ships in sight are the ones tied up at the piers. But on the piers, pile-driving is under way at P&H’s flour mill and the concrete silos have begun taking shape at G3 Canada Ltd.’s grain terminal.

Karl Gerrand, chief executive officer of G3, which took control of the former Canada Wheat Board last year, said the Winnipeg-based company picked Hamilton as the place to build a new terminal partly because the rail access will allow the company to buy and ship farmers’ crops year round. The terminal, due to be open by next year, gives the company its first footprint in the Southern Ontario crop market, home to the country’s biggest growers of corn and soybean. The site also completes the G3’s eastern supply chain, which feeds its terminals in Trois-Rivières before reaching overseas buyers.

“Hamilton’s really important for us,” Mr. Gerrand said by phone.

To make room for more tenants, the port is eyeing the 800 acres owned by U.S. Steel Canada. The land would require a major cleanup after more than a century of steel making, but the port is accustomed to making contaminated land suitable for other uses, said Bruce Wood, the port’s chief executive officer.

“It’s not a pretty site, but that’s what we do,” Mr. Wood said.

Article courtesy of Globe & Mail

Hamilton Highlights Newsletter – January 2016

In the January 2016 edition of Hamilton Highlights…

  • Take the Employer One Survey
  • Innovation on a Napkin
  • Work Continues on West Harbour Redevelopment
  • Save the Date for Success

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

Hamilton Highlights Newsletter – Nov/Dec 2015

In the November/December 2015 edition of Hamilton Highlights…

  • Hamilton Reaches $1 Billion…Again!
  • Pan Am Update
  • Hamilton Economic Development Celebrates Steel Day
  • The Flavour of Small Business

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

City staff tout success of Pan Am Playbook

Photo of Pan Am Soccer GamesA new Hamilton-Niagara economic development playbook is being credited with turning last summer’s Pan Am Games into a bonanza of new investment for the area.

In a report going to the city’s general issues committee Wednesday, city staff praise the new Pan Am Investment Playbook for helping to draw five investments and a major sports conference to the Hamilton-Niagara region.

Jennifer Patterson, of the planning and economic development department, said in her report the Playbook was created as a way of ensuring the Pan Am Games were more than a short-term extravaganza.

“The Pan Am Games will create an influx of visitors, athletes and media which, in turn, will drive an increase in spending and an injection of capital into the local economy,” she wrote. “Recognizing that these impacts will be relatively short-lived. … The Pan Am Playbook initiative was developed to carry on following the games. Our partnership will continue to promote the corridor as an all-encompassing advantage for countries looking to grow into the Canadian, or even North American market.”

To do that, the Playbook prescribed a series of tours, meetings and social events that exposed decision makers from the target countries to the potential of Hamilton and Niagara. Events included tours of the McMaster Innovation Park, Mohawk College, Niagara’s wine country, advanced manufacturing facilities and clean technology plants, among others.

An international investment forum was also held in Hamilton.

Patterson explained the Playbook targeted specific Latin American markets for future investment and trade opportunities. These included Mexico, Brazil, Colombia and Chile as well as the United States.

“The July 2015 Pan Am Games … provided significant economic development opportunities to the Hamilton-Niagara Region, from both a short-term and long-term perspective,” Patterson wrote. “The Hamilton Niagara Region was pitched as a corridor to highlight the consumption potential, diversity of industry sectors, and geographical advantages pertaining to proximity to United States and the Greater Toronto Area.”

The result was a series of “investment-focused events … designed so that the benefits would continue to self-perpetuate with minimal resource expenditure into the future, and that they developed a template format so as to be easily replicated for similar future events.”

The events drew about 160 people from Canada, the U.S. and the target markets.

Investments announced during the games include:

•Anaergia announced plans for a 90,000 square foot, $30 million, facility in Hamilton’s Red Hill Business Park to manufacture water purification membranes;

•a Sport Analytics Centre of Excellence in the region. The centre was described as an ecosystem including grants, funds and investment, industry champions, sport broadcasting; regional innovation centres and research and development. The centre will be a joint project between the Canada International Trade Services Inc., City of Hamilton, Region of Niagara, Fox 40, Project-1, and McMaster University.

•Waterloo-based Nanolytix will move its operations to the Hamilton-Niagara Corridor;

•Project-1 and SoccerFit will move here from Brazil.

Finally, a major sports analytics knowledge symposium was promised for the region sometime in 2016.

Article courtesy of Steve Arnold, The Hamilton Spectator

City tops $1B mark in construction permits four years in a row

Construction in Hamilton has topped $1 billion for the fourth straight year.

In a news release Wednesday afternoon, the city’s chief building official Ed VanderWindt said the milestone was passed this month.

To the end of October the city reported sales of building permits for construction valued at more than $978.8 million. Another $21.2 million was added Nov. 9, bringing the annual total to just over $1 billion.

This is the fifth time in the past six years the city has topped the $1-billion permit mark — and there’s still just over seven weeks left in the year.

Mayor Fred Eisenberger said the blistering pace of local building is a testament to the city’s economic development strategy.

“A lot of it is due to business expansion and that is exactly our strategy to grow business in our community,” he said. “This is exactly what we want to see.”

The year-to-date numbers are still heavily weighted toward residential construction — 84.4 per cent. In fact industrial, commercial and institutional building is down more than 51 per cent for the year. Despite that, almost $230 million worth of industrial-commercial permits were sold.

Civic leaders want more commercial and industrial building to ensure people can work as well as live here and because that kind of assessment produces more tax revenue than it consumes in services.

“That’s not a problem we’re going to solve in the next two or three years,” Eisenberger said. “Right now we’ll take what we can get since we’re moving in the right direction.”

Neil Everson, director of Hamilton’s economic development department, said city council has set a clear direction to chase more business-related building, but the pace is being held back by a lack of employment land.

Some of that will be solved as business development around Hamilton airport increases and as U.S. Steel land becomes available as the former Stelco restructures under creditor protection.

Suzanne Mammel, executive officer of the Hamilton-Halton Home Builders’ Association, said her members are building houses as fast as they can because demand is sizzling.

“The frank reality is that we’re in a ‘drive until you can afford it’ scenario,” she said. “People from Toronto just keep driving this way looking for the single-family home they can afford.”

While those home-seekers draw down the inventory of available new and resale homes, available land for building in Hamilton is slowly dwindling as builders creep closer to the city’s urban boundary.

Mammel and Everson both expect the demand for homes downtown and in the east end will accelerate as the new GO stations are completed.

Keanin Loomis, president of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, sees the building boom as the payoff for years of selling the city and its attractions.

“The city is really hitting its stride in terms of economic development after years of actively spreading the gospel of Hamilton,” he said.

He is largely untroubled by the imbalance between residential and industrial-commercial building because more residents translates to more potential trade for local businesses.

“It’s all positive, it doesn’t matter where it’s coming from because it means people want to live here,” he said. “You won’t hear our members complaining about having more customers living in the city.”

Joe Mancinelli, of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, said the pace of building has his union members at full employment and facing a pressing need for more skilled workers to meet intense demand.

“New houses are being built everywhere and they’re selling like hotcakes,” he said. “I don’t see any slowdown in that coming.”

Article courtesy of Steve Arnold, The Hamilton Spectator

New Hamilton brewery combines roll ‘n’ roll and beer

Photo of The new Collective Arts BreweryBeer and rock ‘n’ roll. They are a natural match, both chemically and commercially.

Neil Young knew that when he satirically wrote “This Note’s For You,” Jim Morrison of The Doors knew it when he sang “Roadhouse Blues” (“I woke up this morning and I got myself a be-yah“), Steve Winwood knew it when he reworked the old English folksong “John Barleycorn Must Die” for his band Traffic, and … well, I’m sure you can come up with plenty of other examples (John Lee Hooker, anyone?).

The folks at Hamilton’s Collective Arts Brewing have figured out this connection as well. As a matter of fact, they’re opening their new craft brewery on Burlington Street East to the public on Saturday with a frothy helping of beer and rock ‘n’ roll.

It’s called the Bash in the Brewery. Twitter hashtag: #BEERISTHENEWSTEEL.

From noon to 4 p.m., a free open house will feature guided tours and tasting stations ($2 for half pours and $4 for full pours), as well as live music by Sarah Burton, Bravestation and the Knads resonating among the beer vats and bottling machines.

At 7 p.m., the real party gets underway, moving into the brewery’s 10,000 square-foot event space where three live bands — Hamilton’s WTCHS, Ottawa’s Hollerado and Toronto’s Zeus — will perform from a stage specially built for the occasion, complete with a light show that will bounce off the beer tanks towering behind it.

“This is a rock show in a brewery,” says Dane Pedersen, events manager for Collective Arts Brewing. “We’re not going to hide the fact that there’s a brewery.”

The Bash will be the start of something new on Burlington Street — a hip craft brewery with its own event for concerts and parties. It can fit 1,000 people, probably more.

A parking lot and a large outdoor patio area are in their final stages of completion (if the parking lot isn’t ready Saturday, try the Eastwood Park lot west of the brewery at Ferguson).

“We’ve already had our first wedding booked for next summer,” says Matt Johnston, a Hamilton native who co-founded the brewery with Bob Russell a couple of years ago in Toronto before moving it to their hometown. “We just want to add to the life of the city. Eventually we want this space used all the time. Hamilton needs more mid-sized event spaces.”

From its inception, Collective Arts wanted its brand to be affiliated with music and the arts. The bottled versions of its products feature labels designed by musical acts, mostly independents, and artists from around the world. So far the brewery has promoted 334 acts, mostly Canadian. As well, each label contains an app that, when held up to a drinker’s smartphone, will direct it to an artist’s website.

The recent hiring of Pedersen as “events manager,” demonstrates the brewery’s interest in the city’s cultural scene. Pedersen, who also run’s the brewery’s small retail outlet, is the former owner of the Loose Canon Gallery on James Street North and was one of the key players in organizing the early Art Crawls. In more recent years, Pedersen has been co-coordinator of Supercrawl and a member of its board of directors.

“My job is to promote connections with events that are happening within the city,” Pedersen says.

Collective Arts and its partner, the Burlington-based Nickel Brook brewery, took over the old Lakeport site after Labatt shut it down in 2010, taking with it all the plant’s equipment and leaving 143 people unemployed.

Johnston said Collective Arts and Nickel Brook have invested more than $5 million in the plant which currently employs more than 40 people. Much of the brewery’s equipment was purchased and shipped here from a now-defunct Sleeman plant in Dartmouth, N.S.

Collective Arts Brewmaster Ryan Morrow estimates the plant, which began operations this summer, is currently producing 20,000 litres of beer a day for area pubs and liquor stores. They hope to push that to 10 million litres a year.

“We haven’t really hit our full stride,” says Morrow. “We’re getting there gradually.”

Collective Arts’ best known labels are Rhyme & Reason Extra Pale Ale and Saint of Circumstance Blonde Ale which are available in provincial liquor stores. Those brands and others can also be purchased directly from the brewery store fresh in “growler” (1.69 litre) and “squealer” (one litre) refillable bottles.

The Burlington Street brewery site, between Ferguson and Wellington, is owned by the Hamilton Port Authority, but has a long history of beer, starting with the original Peller brewery in the mid-40s, followed by labels that included Henninger, Amstel, President’s Choice, Laker, Steeler and Lakeport.

Article courtesy of Graham Rockingham, The Hamilton Spectator

Hamilton Highlights Newsletter – October 2015

In the October 2015 edition of Hamilton Highlights…

  • Multi-Million Dollar Grain Terminal
  • Innovation Night will showcase pitches by local entrepreneurs
  • Sniper Skin Takes Lion’s Lair
  • iON Hamilton

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

Young Hamilton entrepreneurs to see boost through program expansion

More young Hamilton entrepreneurs will be able to receive help launching their small businesses through the expansion of a provincial program that provides training, mentorship and startup funding to youth.

The province is providing thPhoto of Sarah Bethune, Ballroom dancing studio owner who used the Starter Company programe city with $350,000 in additional funding for Starter Company — a key part of its youth jobs strategy — announced at the one-year celebration of the program’s Hamilton launch on Thursday.

“With such high youth unemployment, a lot of youth do try to start businesses,” said Rob Belchior, business development officer at the Small Business Enterprise Centre, noting Ontario’s youth unemployment rate hovers around 15 per cent. “But like anybody else starting a business, it’s really hard.”

With the new funding, up to 70 Hamilton youth aged 18 to 29 whose full-time business are less than a year old or who want to get one started can apply for a $5,000 grant. They can also receive mentorship from local business leaders and advice through the Small Business Enterprise Centre.

To date, approximately $135,000 has been given to Hamilton entrepreneurs through the program.

Young entrepreneurs can apply for funding through the SBEC until March 31, 2017. Recipients must be able to contribute at least 25 per cent of the grant amount, according to the province’s website.

So far, 28 grants have been handed out to young Hamilton business owners, whose companies range from bubble soccer rentals — the soccer players wear large, plastic bubbles — to commercial cleaning operations, to a public relations agency.

Training and business skills development — around business planning, marketing, financial forecasting, legal issues and taxation — has also been offered to 112 aspiring young business owners to help them get started.

“If we can help as many businesses as possible to succeed, they create a job for themselves, and a lot of them actually end up hiring people as they grow,” Belchior said.

Ballroom dancing studio owner Sarah Bethune used the Starter Company program when launching her business, Stepping Out Dance Company, which opened last October.

Her first year has been a “dream come true,” she said at Thursday’s celebration.

Before launching her business, networking and public speaking were two of her biggest challenges, she said.

“With the help of Starter Company and the Small Business Enterprise Centre, I was able to find my confidence, learn new skills and conquer my fears.”

Across Ontario, more than 2,000 young entrepreneurs have used the Starter Company program since it launched in the fall of 2013.

Article courtesy of Natalie Paddon, The Hamilton Spectator

ACI Air Cargo Inc. Named as Operator of Hamilton International’s Common-Use Air Cargo Centre

Hamilton, ON – (October 6, 2015)

Today John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport announced ACI Air Cargo Inc. (ACI) will operate the common-use half of its $12 million Air Cargo Centre.

“We’re very excited to announce ACI as operator of Hamilton International Airport’s Cargo Centre,” said Frank Scremin, President and CEO, John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport. “We believe this strategic partnership with ACI will further enhance Hamilton International’s dominant position in the Canadian air cargo market; we look forward to working together to grow air cargo activity and services at Hamilton.”

ACI Air Cargo Inc. will be responsible for all cargo handling services within the common use section of the Air Cargo Centre including bonded, e-commerce and temperature controlled air cargo handling, cross docking and end of runway cargo services which allows companies to move critical items in time-sensitive situations.

“We are pleased to be selected as operator for the Cargo Centre and eager to utilize this first-class facility and ideal location to offer unique logistics solutions to the express air cargo industry,” said Robert Thorndyke, President, ACI Air Cargo Inc. “We believe the combined strengths of Hamilton International Airport and ACI will result in enhanced and increased air cargo options for the marketplace.”

Hamilton International Airport’s Air Cargo Centre was funded through a joint partnership between the federal and Ontario governments, and TradePort International Corporation, with support from Hamilton’s municipal government.

In March 2014, Cargojet Airways was announced as anchor tenant for the Air Cargo Centre, occupying approximately half of the 77,000 square foot Facility.  ACI will operate the second half of the Facility under a common-use model.


About Air Cargo Inc.
ACI Air Cargo Inc. is a third party logistics provider specializing in air freight.  ACI Air Cargo Inc. operates dual bonded facilities at both Toronto Pearson International Airport and Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, moving thousands of tonnes of goods between some of the busiest ports in Canada and the United States.

About John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport
John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport is a growing passenger airport and the largest overnight express freight Airport in Canada. Its strategic location and uncongested 24/7 operations make it an attractive option for both passenger and cargo carriers looking to serve the Southern Ontario market. The Airport’s tie to Vantage Airport Group – an industry leading investor, developer and manager of airport assets – allows Hamilton International to incorporate best-in-class practices from around the world into its operations.

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