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Hamilton’s Affordable Downtown is Open for Business

Hamilton’s Affordable Downtown is Open for Business

Hamilton’s Affordable Downtown is Open for Business
March 03
19:55 2017

When will you move or expand your business to Hamilton’s work culture hotspot?

To use an old baseball analogy, Hamilton’s Downtown Urban Growth Centre (USG) has seen a number of singles, but early indications are that 2016 is a grand slam. Hamilton has loaded the bases, capitalizing on its strengths, its communities, and its people. Since the previous employment survey conducted in the summer of 2015 there has been some moderate cross-sector losses in healthcare, social services, and the non-profit sector, however the overall results are a total increase in employment for Downtown Hamilton by a net total of 1037 jobs. This synergy is reflected in the numbers with strong indications of much more to come.

The major sectors of employment for Downtown Hamilton continue to be in government, professional, scientific, retail, and entertainment. Combined, this accounts for over 65 percent of Downtown jobs. As of 2016, the finance, insurance and real estate (FIRE) sector has grown by 439 jobs, which accounts for 10 percent of the jobs in the Downtown area.

“Looking forward, one of the strategies we will be pursuing in getting new finance, insurance, and real estate companies into the downtown office towers is collaborating with local post-secondary institutions such as Mohawk College which has an insurance program,” says Glen Norton, Director of Economic Development for the City of Hamilton.

In March 2016, IBM, one of Canada’s top ten private research and development investors, and Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) announced plans to establish a new centre in downtown Hamilton focused on healthcare innovation. A total of 350 HHS staff moved into 100 King St. West over the last three months, and IBM has leased space nearby. The facility will also be open to others including academics from HHS research partners McMaster University and Mohawk College, local start-up and scaleup businesses, and individual innovators who share the common goal of developing innovative healthcare solutions.

“There was not one paramount project in this sector, it was rather an accumulative effect which saw newer professional offices appear in the Downtown as well as existing ones also expand and grow,” says Judy Lam, Acting Manager, Urban Renewal Section, Planning and Economic Development.

“The retail and entertainment sector saw a significant increase of jobs, attributing this increase to Hamilton’s burgeoning food scene and the result of many new restaurants opening and expanding. Some of this sector’s increases also came from the entertainment component which has seen jobs increase at both First Ontario Centre and the Hamilton Convention Centre.”

Forward thinking policies, including a preference for redevelopment of heritage properties and developing new buildings on vacant lots, have helped drive the UGC office vacancy rate down. The UGC offers a wide variety of office spaces to suit businesses that require flex office and co-working ‘pay as you go’ space, to ‘brick and beam’ sites, to large multi-level tower locations, along with new development opportunities. The City is currently focusing on a centralized public parking facility to accommodate parking as well as implementing Light Rail Transit to address community concerns and reduce investor risk.

“We have heard anecdotally, that office clients came to Hamilton for available sites, skilled talent, no congestion, efficient transportation, and connectivity,” says Sylvia Renshaw, Business Development Consultant, Commercial and Retail Sector, Urban Renewal. “We are now hearing that they have benefitted from retaining and growing their skilled workforce, an employer’s number one cost, because their employees are able to purchase a home and ‘settle down’ in the greater Hamilton community.”

Looking back, Hamilton’s Urban Renewal Section completed the five-year review of the Community Improvement Plan in June 2016. Looking forward, updates to the plan and the Office Tenancy Assistance Program includes enhancements to offer a zero percent interest loan, where previously it was a low interest loan at one percent below the prime lending rate, this incentive has the potential to further assist business in relocating to Hamilton and occupy existing office spaces.

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    Lloyd Stevens has been writing Canadian business news for over 20 years with articles appearing in Perspective which appears in The Globe & Mail and contributing to and

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