Hamilton Economic Development

Report suggests Hamilton area will lead province in growth this year

Construction cranes working on the former sanatorium site on Fennell Avenue.

The Hamilton-Burlington economy will be the fastest growing in 2012 among Ontario cities tracked in a new Conference Board of Canada report.

The region is expected to churn out steady growth of 2.5 per cent this year, thanks to increases in the manufacturing and construction sectors, and will match that on average over the next four years, according to the Ottawa-based research centre.

And that 2.5 per cent figure is the actual gross domestic product growth recorded in the local economy in 2011.

Hamilton ranks fifth in projected 2012 economic growth among 13 cities tracked in the Metropolitan Outlook report. The top four cities are Edmonton, Calgary, Regina and Vancouver. Toronto comes in at sixth with 2.3 per cent growth and Ottawa-Gatineau, the only other Ontario city tracked, comes in last at 1 per cent.

The manufacturing and construction sectors will lead

 the way in growth for the Hamilton-Burlington census metropolitan area, which also includes Grimsby.

Manufacturing is forecasted to grow 4.5 per cent this year, following increases of 8.6 per cent in 2010 and 3.7 per cent in 2011. The board predicts 3.4 per cent growth through 2013-2014.

“The industry is continuing to reshape and recover after declining for much of the 2000s, having been hurt by two recessions and a rising Canadian dollar during that time,” reads the report released Tuesday.

“The region’s steel industry was particularly hard hit, given its importance to the auto and parts sector, which saw demand tumble during the last recession.”

But the steel sector has seen renewed demand, says the report, and other manufacturing sectors are growing. The board noted the new Canada Bread plant, plans for a $395-million Maple Leaf processing plant and the expansion of Columbian Chemicals carbon black plant.

Total construction growth is expected to come in at 3.8 per cent this year and then slow to 1.8 per cent in 2013.

After falling 31 per cent in 2011, the board predicts total housing starts will surge by 39 per cent this year thanks to steady economic and population growth and continued affordability. The board expects to see starts rise an average of 7.7 per cent from 2014 to 2016.

The board pointed out a number of residential and non-residential developments under way, including the Witton Lofts, Urban West, Staybridges Suites, the McMaster Automotive Research Centre, the City Square condos, along with proposed projects, including Acclamation Lofts and Options for Homes Hamilton, which will continue to lift Hamilton construction numbers.

The region’s service sector is predicted to grow by just 1.9 per cent in 2012, hampered by small increases in transportation and warehousing, personal services and shrinking output in the public sector in a time of fiscal restraint.

Finance, insurance, real estate and business services are all expected to grow, along with wholesale and retail trade through 2012. Consumer spending is also expected to be strong, in sharp contrast to drastic declines in 2008 and 2009.

“The confidence is there now with a few years of steady growth,” said Conference Board economist Jane McIntyre.

“In 2009, Hamilton’s unemployment rate was 8.3 per cent but last year it was 6.3 per cent. After a period of volatility, there is stability in Hamilton now. It helps businesses and consumers gain confidence in the economy again.”

DeGroote School of Business professor Marvin Ryder said while the board’s report is a “positive statement” for the city, he cautions against reading too much into the numbers.

He’s tracked the Conference Board’s record on forecasting growth since 2004 and says the actual numbers have come in both higher and lower than predicted.

For instance, in 2009, the board predicted a decline in the Hamilton economy of 1.9 per cent but the real drop turned out to be 4.5 per cent.

“You could argue that it was hard to see just how deep and bad the recession would be, but that’s the point. A forecast is just a forecast. You can’t take it to the bank.”

He said global factors, including the performance of the European and American economies, will play more of a role in the Hamilton market over the next few years than anything done locally.

Ryder also doesn’t think economic forecasts affect the pessimism or optimism of potential investors, although positive reports can help those at the city charged with attracting developers.

“Does it affect location decisions by itself? No,” Ryder said of the report. “But it might encourage someone to take a look at Hamilton who might not have before.”

Article courtesy The Hamilton Spectator.

Hamilton Highlights Newsletter – September 2012

In the September 2012 edition of Hamilton Highlights…

  • Navistar invests in Hamilton
  • Hamilton is Canada’s top investment City
  • National Steel Day
  • Grocery Store Coming to Jackson Square
  • On A Record Pace

Click here to read the September 2012 Hamilton Highlights newsletter.  If you are interested in signing up for the Hamilton Highlights newsletter, click here.


New app to show students city’s charms — and keep grads here

Thousands of young people from all over the world come to Hamilton each year to study. Some have never been here before and arrive knowing nothing about their new home.

Too many leave at graduation still knowing nothing about the city.

A new app called MyHamilton aims to introduce students to Hamilton and show them what it offers. The goal: To convince more of them to live and work here once their studies are over.

MyHamilton is a crowd-based app that combines social media platforms, geotagging and mapping and interactive forums.

It’s hoped students will tell share with other students everything — from great places to eat, shop or have a drink, to the best biking trails and ways to spend a Saturday morning in the city.

The initial stage will focus on the city core, defined as Dundurn to Wentworth and the escarpment to the bay. The goal is to eventually expand the app’s range across the city.

Users are asked to use the Twitter hashtag #myhamilton and to enable geotagging so that locations are mapped. The app will also include event, job and rental housing postings, along with discounts offered by advertisers.

The app is a partnership between McMaster University, Mohawk College, Columbia International College, the City of Hamilton and technology company Weever Apps.

McMaster is focused on developing a distinct undergraduate experience and connecting the university with the city, and the app fits both mandates says Phil Wood, dean of students at Mac.

“We have a ‘pop the bubble’ program where we try to get students, particularly our new students, out of the McMaster ‘bubble’ and into the Hamilton community. This new app is a perfect tool for this effort.”

Gisela Oliveira, employment services co-ordinator at McMaster’s Student Success Centre, says young people want to be engaged both locally and globally, and Hamilton can become a thriving metropolis by tapping into that energy and enthusiasm.

“How many cities offer the opportunity to students and youth to shape its future?”

The key to that is making sure they venture beyond the campus and Westdale, she says.

“I truly believe we have a great city and all we have to do is let students see it.”

Any funds raised through advertising will be used to create programming that allows students to experience Hamilton through jobs, internships and volunteer postings, she adds.

Huzaifa Saeed, vice-president of education at the McMaster Students Union, says his organization didn’t really concern itself about student retention in Hamilton until a survey a few years ago revealed that 78 per cent of Mac students said Hamilton wouldn’t be their first choice in looking for a job or finding a home.

Saeed says most of the reasons why students said they didn’t want to stay were based on misconceptions. Getting them to truly experience the city will change some minds, he says.

“But we can lecture people as much as we want. At the end of the day, they will be influenced by what their peers do.”

David Boda, activities adviser for student development at Columbia, says students always ask him where to eat or go in the city. He says the international students are highly tuned into social media and technology and he expects them to embrace the new app.

Developing the app was a labour of love for Steve McBride, vice-president of business development at Weever Apps, a fast-growing Hamilton software company. He’s a proud downtown Hamiltonian with deep family roots in the city.

“When we got the project, it was great for us. We did it at a huge discount, because we wanted to be part of it so much.”

Initially, the app won’t be sold through online app stores. Instead, campuses and social media will be papered with QR codes that lead to the app.

Article courtesy The Hamilton Spectator.

September is a BIG Month in Hamilton

September came in like a lion for the City of Hamilton!  Not only did Navistar announce their intent to construct a new 250,000 square foot auto parts distribution centre in the Red Hill Business Park  but Site Selection Magazine out of Atlanta, GA ranked Hamilton as the top investment city in Canada.  This is truly exciting news and an even more exciting time to be investing in Hamilton.  There is some real momentum in the economy and it is great to see a number of projects both big and small starting to happen in Hamilton. 

Even more good news, Hamilton’s industrial vacancy rate is now sitting at 2.3% and the industrial permits to as of the end of August is now at $148.9 million, a record for Hamilton and the year isn’t even over yet!

But, it’s not all about hard economic numbers, there is fun to be had in Hamilton too – especially the downtown.  This weekend Hamilton once again is home to Supercrawl- a showcase of great Hamilton and Canadian music that will bring over 50,000 people to the James Street North Arts District (www.supercrawl.ca).  C’mon downtown and see the great creative industries that are growing in the core.

With so many great things are happening here, why not be part of the happening?

Hamilton leads country in new projects

The expansion of Activation Labs in Ancaster is one of 20 projects that took Hamilton to the top of a corporate investment ranking. Pictured is president Dr. Eric Hoffman.Hamilton attracted more industrial and commercial development than any other city in Canada over the past year, according to a prestigious executive magazine.

Site Selection magazine out of Atlanta, Ga., analyzed construction and jobs data to determine that Hamilton had 20 new or expansion projects with at least $1 million invested, at least 50 new jobs created or at least 20,000 new square feet between June 2011 and May 2012.

That total beat Quebec City, which had 16 projects and Toronto with 15.

Mayor Bob Bratina says he’s pleased but not surprised by Hamilton’s high showing.

“There’s a very positive mood around economic development in the city. We’re on everyone’s radar now,” he said.

“Our legendary affordability is rolling together with the growth of our research sector and our creative sector and our health-care sector.”

The fifth annual Canada’s Best Locations ranking is published in the magazine’s September issue Thursday.

Hamilton was ranked second on the Site Selection list a year ago (with 21 projects) and fifth two years before.

The local projects include Maple Leaf’s investment in a new meat processing plant, the expansion of Activation Labs in Ancaster, the construction of a new automotive research centre at McMaster Innovation Park, Bermingham Foundation Solutions’ expansion in the former Lakeport brewery, and a number of projects at Hamilton’s port, including a Biox expansion and new grain handling facilities built by Parrish & Heimbecker and Richardson International.

Neil Everson, who heads Hamilton’s economic development and real estate department, says this year’s corporate development numbers are shaping up to be strong again. They include Tuesday’s Navistar announcement, McMaster’s downtown medical campus and two new hotels in the core.

Industrial building permits are up over last year, Everson says, and both the industrial vacancy rate and the downtown office vacancy rate have dropped significantly.

“We’re riding a high and we need to run as hard as we can with it to make sure we make the most of these opportunities,” Bratina said.

Site Selection is delivered to 44,000 corporate executives and consultants around the world who make decisions about where to locate new plants or expansions.

“This is marketing and advertising we can’t buy,” said Everson.

“It supports our message that Hamilton is a great location.”

The results show the efforts of council and city staff to streamline its project approval process in order to boost nonresidential development and create jobs, says Bratina.

“It’s like football. Sometimes it’s the attitude in the locker-room that determines whether you’re a winner or a loser. We have a great attitude in our locker-room.”

Adam Bruns, managing editor of Site Selection, says Hamilton’s “comprehensive approach” to economic development is having results.

“They don’t think there is one thing to save them. There is a commitment to industrial park development and site readiness, there is a strong, good old-fashioned industrial base and there is involvement with the university community.”

Bruns also praised the Hamilton Calling program, which communicates directly with hundreds of businesses yearly to understand their needs and plans.

“Business retention is really important … I would point others to the Hamilton program because it leads directly to job creation.”

City officials don’t always know they are being scouted for a new plant, says Everson. Site selectors usually work under the radar, visiting potential locations and mining city websites for data before making any contact with local staff.

Everson says site selectors typically look at business infrastructure such as transportation links and local labour force and the cost of doing business in a municipality in terms of taxes, development charges and utilities. They also look at a city’s momentum in terms of development, he says.

“I think the big commitment of Maple Leaf here likely made a good impression.”

Some people might be surprised that Hamilton beat Toronto numbers, but Everson says those cranes spotted all over Canada’s biggest city are largely building residential units.

“When we started to make the rankings, people were surprised that Hamilton had the numbers. But now people are not surprised. The word’s out, and it’s nice that we’re not putting it out. It’s a third party looking at our data.”

As part of its Canadian rankings, Site Selection names the top 10 economic development departments, without ranking them. For the third year running, Hamilton’s economic development team makes the list.

Site Selection determined that Ontario is the most competitive province, followed by British Columbia and Quebec.


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Top Canadian cities

According to data compiled by Site Selection magazine, the following cities were tops for corporate facility investment. The criteria were at least $1 million invested, at least 50 new jobs created or at least 20,000 new square feet of development. The city is followed by the number of projects between June 2011 and May 2012.

Hamilton        20

Quebec City   16

Toronto           15

Montreal         13

Calgary            11

Edmonton       9

Belleville          7

Saskatoon       6

Source: Conway Data New Plant Database

Top economic development groups

In alphabetical order:

• Calgary Economic Development

• Canada’s Technology Triangle

• Edmonton Economic Development Corp.

• City of Hamilton Economic Development and Real Estate Division

• London Economic Development Corp.

• Enterprise Greater Moncton

• Initiatives Prince George

• Quebec International

• Quinte Economic Development Commission

• Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority

Article courtesy The Hamilton Spectator.

Hamilton Hive plans young professionals’ event

Hamilton’s rising young professionals will meet next month to offer their vision of the city’s future.

The second Hamilton Hive, which last year gathered 200 of the region’s young professionals to consider new solutions to the area’s challenges, will gather Oct. 20.

“We have a great deal of momentum building off last year’s event,” said Hamilton Hive chair Ryan Moran. “These are people who want a voice in the conversation about the future of Hamilton.”

The program includes panel discussion on how young professionals are influencing the media, featuring Hamilton Spectator editor-in-chief Paul Berton and CBC Hamilton producer Roger Gillespie and workshops on small business management, Hamilton’s image, downtown renewal and innovation.

Conference chair Mike Marini said each of those workshops will produce one or two action items that can be forwarded to city council or the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce.

Those ideas, Moran said, will hopefully offer a different take on the city’s future development.

Keynote speaker at the one-day event will be Sarah Prevette, founder of Sprouter.com, an online platform connecting young startup executives with a panel of experts in fields such as law, marketing and funding.

Spouter was started in 2009 and was acquired by Postmedia in 2011. Prevette has been profiled in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes and Wired Magazine. She is also an adviser to several startups, appears regularly in the Financial Post and live on BNN’s new show The Pitch.

To register for the event go to www.hamiltonhive.ca.

Article courtesy The Hamilton Spectator.

Hamilton moves fast to land Navistar centre

Navistar breaks ground on new Hamilton parts distribution centre. Breaking ground for the new Navisat distribution centre  L-R  Josef Kory, Navistar Vice President of global distribution operations, Joe Hamadi,Sora Group, Mayor Bob Bratina, Paul Stochl, Giffels.A major industrial investment Hamilton wasn’t supposed to get is under construction now in the city’s Red Hill Business Park.

The massive new Navistar parts distribution centre on Glover Road will keep up to 60 jobs in the Hamilton-Burlington area that could have been lost to Mississauga.

Joe Kory, vice-president of global parts distribution for Navistar, said when the company started looking for a new home for the parts centre currently located in Burlington, a site in Hamilton wasn’t even on its radar.

“We did have other options and we did quite an extensive search before everything came together for us here,” he told a groundbreaking ceremony for the new facility Tuesday. “The transportation worked here, this site worked well for our employees and the co-operation we got from the city on short notice sealed the deal.”

He said the company initially wanted to move into an existing building closer to the GTA, but “when we started looking at what was available we became more open to building something.”

Neil Everson, the city’s director of economic development, said Hamilton officials started talking to the land owner about pitching Navistar for the new investment in January. On May 4 an urgent meeting was requested with city staff — that was held three days later and four days after that senior staff and Navistar were consulting on the project.

By mid-July a conditional site plan agreement was finished and the project was ready to go.

Joe Hamadi, president of Woodbridge-based Sora Group, the land owner, said while Hamilton wasn’t on Navistar’s site selection radar the “can do” attitude of city officials changed that.

“Navistar was looking for a location and our location was not on the list of preferred sites,” he said. “We met with the mayor on one day’s notice and he said the city would do everything possible to make this happen. We do developments in many places, but Hamilton has shown it is truly the place to invest. Hamilton is clearly a municipality that wants investment and can deliver service.”

Barely seven months from first contact to site plan agreement is near lightning speed for an economic development project, Everson said, adding the rails were greased in this case by working with a company that knew the municipal approvals process.

“They were just great to deal with,” he said. “We were dealing with a developer and with guys who know how a municipality works.”

The multimillion dollar, 250,000-square-foot facility will serve as Navistar’s parts distribution centre for eastern Canada, handling parts for its International and IC Bus vehicles, MaxxForce diesel engines, and all makes of commercial trucks. The distribution centre will be completed by May 2014.

Hamadi explained the project is a build-lease arrangement — his group owns the land and arranged for the construction of a building to suit Navistar’s needs in exchange for a 10-year lease.

Navistar has been in its Burlington location for 50 years but the new technology needed to give the parts system greater efficiency demands a new site.

The construction project will create about 20 full-time jobs for a year. Local suppliers and trades will be used as much as possible, Hamadi said.

The new Navistar centre is across Glover Road from the under-construction Maple Leaf Foods meat processing plant.

Everson said this project will mean about one quarter of the Glanbrook park’s 160 hectares has been developed.

While the investment means nothing in terms of new jobs for Hamilton, it’s important exposure to an international company.

Navistar, headquartered in Lisle, Ill., was born in 1986 from the remnants of International Harvester, once one of Hamilton’s bayfront industrial giants.

Mayor Bob Bratina welcomed the company back to Hamilton for what he hopes will be a long stay.

“We were once known for all of the big companies that were located here,” he said. “Now we’re seeing some of these companies come back. There’s a new cycle of new industries in Hamilton. We’re beginning a new chapter in Hamilton’s life with this great company.”

In a news release Bratina said “to have this company return to our community is another major step in our continued renaissance. It also demonstrates that the investment this council made in our economic development function was money well spent as it continues to provide measurable returns in non-residential assessment and jobs.”

Article courtesy The Hamilton Spectator.

2nd Annual Hive X Conference

On Saturday, October 20th at the Sheraton Hotel Hamilton, Hamilton Hive will once again be holding Hamilton’s premier Young Professional Conference.

Click here for more information or go to on-line registration

Navistar Returns to Hamilton

HAMILTON, ON – September 4th, 2012 – Today, Navistar, one of the world’s leading truck, bus, Recreational Vehicle and diesel engine manufacturers will break ground in the Red Hill Business Park for a new 250,000 s.f. parts distribution centre. Navistar will be located directly across the road from the 500,000 s.f.  Maple Leafs Foods processing operation now under construction.

“We are looking forward to moving to a new and larger facility to support our growth in Canada,” said Joe Kory, Vice President, Global Parts Distribution Operations, Navistar.  “This facility will feature the latest innovations in lean distribution to help us provide greater support to our customers.”

The distribution facility will serve as the parts distribution centre for eastern Canada to support International® and IC Bus™ vehicles, MaxxForce® diesel engines, and all makes of commercial trucks. The distribution centre will be completed by May 2014 and will be home to 50 -60 employees. This new facility will replace Navistar’s existing parts distribution centre in Burlington, Ontario.

“Navistar and International Harvester are synonymous with the history of Hamilton and Burlington Street,” said Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina. “To have this company return to our community is another major step in our continued renaissance. It also demonstrates that the investment this Council made in our Economic Development function was money well spent as it continues to provide measurable returns in non-residential assessment and jobs.“

The project’s Developer is Mr. Joe Hamadi, President of the Woodbridge based Sora Group. He acknowledged the strategic location of the Red Hill Business Park and applauded the efforts of the Mayor and City Staff to meet their tight timelines for this development. “On Friday, May 4th we requested a meeting with the Mayor, City Manager and Senior City staff,” said Mr. Hamadi. “That meeting was convened on Monday May 7th and a pre-consultation meeting for the project was held with Senior City staff four days later. This is clearly a municipality that wants investment and can deliver service.”

About Navistar

Navistar International Corporation (NYSE: NAV) is a holding company whose subsidiaries and affiliates produce International® brand commercial and military trucks, MaxxForce® brand diesel engines, IC Bus™ brand school and commercial buses and Navistar RV brands of recreational vehicles. The company also provides truck and diesel engine service parts. Additional information is available at www.Navistar.com/newsroom.




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

    Welcome to unstoppable.