|The following appeared in the Hamilton Economic Development highlights bulletin for the 2012 year in review.:
2012 was another record year for Hamilton’s economy. The final total building permit values were approximately $1.5 billion (including over $200 million in industrial permits) – smashing the old record of nearly $1.1 billion set in 2010. This total included record numbers in every permit category – residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional.
Aside from the numbers, there was major recognition for the city last year. To start, Site Selection Magazine out of Atlanta, Ga. ranked Hamilton as the top investment metro in Canada. They reviewed construction and jobs data and found 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.
As well, for the second straight time, the Real Estate Investment Network of Calgary ranked Hamilton as the best place to invest in Ontario. The REIN investment report identifies cities, towns and regions poised to outperform other regions of the province over the next 5 years.
Hamilton also ranked as the top municipality in Canada and in the top two in North America for its use of economic development marketing via the web and social media. This ranking was courtesy of Montreal-based consultancy firm Intelegia via their 2012 Canadian American Online Marketing Index.
Work that continued throughout 2012 included Maple Leaf’s state-of-the-art meat processing plant- which will be the largest and most innovative in Canada. Located in the Red Hill Business Park, this 500,000 square foot, $395 million facility will bring 670 new jobs to Hamilton. This plant will add an estimated $2 million in property tax base each year. With production in deli meats, processed meats and wieners, this exciting new addition brings Maple Leaf’s total two year investment (along with Canada Bread- Canada’s largest bakery) in Hamilton to nearly $500million, approximately 1,000 jobs and nearly 800,000 square feet of new industrial space.
In September, Navistar, one of the world’s leading truck, bus, recreational vehicle and diesel engine manufacturers broke ground in the Red Hill Business Park for a new 250,000 square foot parts distribution centre. Navistar will be located directly across the road from the Maple Leafs Foods processing operation now under construction. The distribution facility will serve as the parts distribution centre for eastern Canada to support International® and IC BusT 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.
Aside from the industrial parks, there were also some exciting announcements for Hamilton’s downtown core. The Staybridge Suites in downtown Hamilton was completed in 2012- adding more hotel space to the core. This long-term stay hotel/condo complex is the first step of the Vrancor plan to invest nearly $125 million in 600 hotel units and 300 residential units in Hamilton’s downtown core over the next several years.
Following the opening of the Staybridge Suites in Downtown Hamilton, work commenced on the Hilton Homewood Suites, just steps away from the Staybridge. This 17 story hotel will add several hundred more hotel spaces within walking distance from the new McMaster University Downtown Health Campus, the Hamilton Convention Centre, and Copps Colliseum.
In terms of advanced research space, McMaster University officially began formal construction on the McMaster Automotive Resource Centre (MARC) in 2012. The centre is designed to be a place where researchers from the university, related industry, and government will flourish together to create more fuel efficient vehicles. Through research and testing these individuals will develop hybrids, electric power trains, batteries, and lightweight materials to add to a growing green auto sector. With assistance through a $11.5 million federal government grant, this $26 million investment will be an 88,512 square foot building with 120 to 150 employees; adding to the great growth in Hamilton’s McMaster Innovation Park.
Finally, in 2012, the Conference Board of Canada ranked the Hamilton-Burlington economy the fastest growing in 2012 among Ontario cities ( 2.5 per cent in 2012 and match that on average over the next four years according to the Board). As well, the report ranked Hamilton 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-Gastineau at 1 per cent. Finally, in 2012 Hamilton’s unemployment rate dropped to 5.9% and the City’s OW caseload also dropped by over 1,000 cases.
These are just some of the highlights of an outstanding year that proved great change is happening in the city of Hamilton and is truly open for business. To find out more, visit investinhamilton.ca.
– some direct information provided by the Hamilton Spectator.