I’ll give you a hint: it’s not entirely about ‘business’.
A little while ago, I was chatting with a friend who lives in downtown Toronto. We were talking about city living and whether people really help each other out often, like they would in the country.
He remarked, maybe a little sarcastically, that the last time he experienced neighbourliness was the year the snow was so bad, the then mayor Mel Lastman called in the army to help clear it! He said there were a couple of days in there where he actually witnessed neighbours helping each other out: shoveling, digging out cars, or inviting those over who didn’t have heat / power. That was in 1999.
The down home feeling of country living is something a lot of us would like to have, but the reality of making a living means that isn’t always possible. Any city that can maintain access to important amenities – health care, schools, arts and entertainment – while still preserving a down to earth, neighbourly feel, is a winner in my books. It’s not an easy combination to achieve, yet despite its population of half a million people and growing, Hamilton manages it.
What Does Hamilton’s Neighbourly Feel Have To Do With Business?
Everything! A community can thrive if it has certain things going for it and while only 70 kms from Toronto, Hamilton boasts two important realities: it has far less road congestion and more manageable housing costs. These two very attractive factors make Hamilton what is referred to as an ‘anchor city’, relative to the GTA.
You can own a home, run a business or work for someone else, raise a family and retire, all in the same place. You will know your neighbours because you won’t be spending an hour and a half commuting every single day. Residents can participate in local activities and enjoy local lifestyle amenities like green spaces and art galleries. Businesses can count on a steady availability of skilled employees and relatively low rental rates. All of that certainly makes me feel good about Hamilton!
What Else Has Hamilton Got Going For It?
Where do I begin?
- In 2015, Hamilton placed 4th in cities that were to experience the greatest growth, after Toronto, Vancouver and Halifax.
- Several MAJOR employers including Hamilton Health Sciences, Maple Leaf and Navistar to name but three.
- Some of the best and most comprehensive medical care, anywhere including six hospitals and a cancer care centre.
- Available land for industrial development at a fraction of the prices in and around the GTA.
- The agricultural sector is exploding, to the tune of $1.26 billion annually.
- Hamilton is a transportation hub from the Port of Hamilton, the John C. Munro International Airport (a large courier / cargo hub), proximity to railway links and the 400 series highways.
- McMaster University and Mohawk College provide both employment and are strong resources in their individual strengths: research and innovation / apprentice training. Between these and with a relative proximity to other towns and cities in the area, there is a resource of over a million skilled workers available, within a 30-minute commute.
Despite all this growth and activity, Hamilton maintains the ‘small town’ feel it’s always had, with good planning and incentives for the development of small to medium businesses as well.
A focus on rejuvenating the waterfront and urban renewal plans for the downtown area, as part of the strategic plan, will continue to contribute to this measured growth, in a way that will draw visitors, businesses and residents alike. It makes Hamilton a place that doesn’t just concern itself with big business and industry but also in the little more neighbourly things that matter, like parks and playgrounds.
I can’t imagine practicing in another city in Ontario, not when we have everything we need to run a successful business right here in Hamilton.