View Full Version : Transition from a manufacturing economy to a knowledge economy

Dec 4, 2007, 9:42 PM
After listening to Glen Murray speak to the public at an LRT meeting in KW, I began wondering of the plans in Hamilton to make the inevitable transition from a manufacturing economy to a knowledge economy in the future.

A good comparison would be Pittsburgh, and the steps they've taken to become a knowledge based (university, med. tech, arts, etc.) city as the steel industry left town. Globalization has changed the western hemisphere and our economies, and cities either make the transition, or die.

That being said, does Hamilton have a plan of attack?

Dec 4, 2007, 9:46 PM
yup, build Walmart in as many strategic places as possible.

Dec 4, 2007, 9:56 PM
Yes, check out the Innovation Park that's taking place in West Hamilton. It's under the development section of Local:Hamilton. That combined with a growing McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences, it's the two largest growing employment sector. Hamilton Health Sciences has overtaken Stelco or Dofasco for having the largest employees.

Dec 4, 2007, 10:00 PM
Yes, check out the Innovation Park that's taking place in West Hamilton. It's under the development section of Local:Hamilton. That combined with a growing McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences, it's the two largest growing employment sector. Hamilton Health Sciences has overtaken Stelco or Dofasco for having the largest employees.

yes, Steeltown is correct.
My response was sarcastic as one can only take so much bad news from city hall for so many consective days.
Education and Health Care are becoming huge in Hamilton.

Dec 4, 2007, 10:03 PM
Seriously, Hamilton has been very late coming to this table, but it is making up for lost time with the development of McMaster Innovation Park. With CANMET as a confirmed anchor tenant, the future is very promising for this site. Here is a link to the official MIP website. (http://www.mcmasterinnovationpark.ca/)

This city has always had a vested interest in R&D. We have had a world-class university for nearly 150 years now, with an international reputation for its medical research, and a well-respected engineering department that has had an operational nuclear reactor and accelerator long before neighbouring universities even dreamed of having one.

McMaster University, combined with their new innovation park, and the medical research facility being built at Hamilton General are all giving new focus to the development of knowledge based industry in our city. Also, Dofasco and the Ontario government recently announced a joint manufacturing innovation research initiative that will contribute to this drive as well. The key is diversification in the new knowledge economy rather than focusing on one small segment of that industry.

Dec 5, 2007, 1:44 PM
Further to your original question, here is an article that ran as part of the 'Hamilton Next' (http://www.thespec.com/article/291583) series in The Spec (http://www.thespec.com/):

Hamilton Next

December 05, 2007
The Hamilton Spectator
(Dec 5, 2007)

What should Hamilton aspire to? How does it get there? We asked leaders of the city's many communities and sectors for their perspectives. Richard Allen, executive director of Industry-Education Council of Hamilton, gives his perspective

Q. What kind of city should Hamilton aspire to be? What should we look like in 10 years?

A. Hamilton has positioned itself to be a leading centre for educational opportunity, research and discovery. This is the aspiration of Hamilton Education City, a collaborative initiative that is currently showcasing the essential role our local education sector plays in building prosperity and enriching quality of life.

As an education city, the Hamilton of tomorrow will have a distinct look and feel based on developments occurring today. We will see more physical infrastructure that announces our city's commitment to education, including new multipurpose schools, research laboratories in the West Hamilton Innovation District and corporate training facilities situated in new business parks along our transportation corridors.

We will also see less tangible yet equally important signs of a city that has chosen to capitalize on its education advantage -- a growing youth population that elects to live, learn and work in our community; the re-emergence of liberal arts education and a vibrant bohemian culture that returns life to our urban core; a list of grassroots revitalization projects spearheaded by the education sector in partnership with local businesses; and increased participation in lifelong learning by older Hamiltonians who understand the myriad benefits of continuing education.

Q. How do we rebuild Hamilton's economic and social vitality?

A. People living their dreams build prosperity. More than ever, young people require skills, knowledge and attitudes to thrive in a world economy that rewards creativity, collaboration and continuous learning.

Stable long-term employment, low-skill/ high-pay industrial jobs and other characteristics of Hamilton's past economy have all but disappeared.

Now, as a community, we need to build on existing education and career management programs that enable students to explore and experience the new world of work that has arisen in response to Hamilton's emerging knowledge- and service-based economy.

Hamilton's 21st-century economy -- which most observers predict will be built upon advanced manufacturing, health sciences, biotechnology research and discovery, and transportation -- will be reliant on a new generation of highly educated people who know how to add value to the workplace and the local community.

Hamilton has the people pipelines in place to direct a flow of competent and motivated young people toward the types of work that will define Hamilton Next.

These networks, coupled with local firms that care about the growth and well-being of their employees, are essential parts of the soft infrastructure that progressive cities need in order to retain young people in a world that's increasingly competing for scarce talent.

Q. What specific efforts or initiatives will it take to get us there?

A. There are many initiatives already happening across our local education sector that are moving Hamilton toward a better future. Here are some additional efforts that many agree will accelerate progress:

* Job Creation: Hamilton's focus on job creation represents a solid step forward. Our local education sector must continue as a key player on a number of fronts, including helping to attract new businesses to Hamilton, re-skilling and up-skilling the employees of existing businesses, engaging more employers in experiential learning programs and apprenticeship training, and incubating new high-tech startups -- tomorrow's job providers.

* Hamilton Learning Index: Many cities are adopting frameworks to measure the impact of a local education sector on community prosperity. Indicators range from readiness to learn in the early years, to retention of postsecondary graduates, to the intensity of partnership activity among education and business. The Canadian Council on Learning is doing good work in this area and could provide Hamilton with helpful advice.

* Student Engagement: We all need to find ways to engage students. For example, successful employers work closely with local schools, colleges and universities to access the skills and knowledge of students -- a practical solution to forming early relationships with prospective employees. Organizations that don't nurture these relationships will be at a significant disadvantage as the battle for talent heats up.

Q. Are there any risks in taking these steps, things we should avoid?

A. Hamilton is at a turning point. The risks associated with not continuing our collective aspiration to be an "education city" are profound and will have a negative impact on all Hamiltonians.

These risks include an ongoing competency drain as highly educated young people continue to leave our community, stalled efforts to recast our city's reputation in the image of the creative economy, lost opportunities to attract and retain knowledge-dependent businesses and an overall sense of striking out on a limited-time offer to become the sweet spot of Canada's Greater Golden Horseshoe.

The vision of Hamilton Education City includes an obligation to help ensure success for all.

This can only be accomplished through educating and retaining a highly competent workforce needed to fuel a strong local economy which in turn will support quality social programs.

Hamilton Education City is a collaborative initiative co-led by the IEC and the City of Hamilton in partnership with Hamilton's education sector and with the support of the Hamilton Future Fund. Visit www.iechamilton.ca to discover more.

Dec 5, 2007, 2:09 PM
If we get more and more of R&D type of jobs than people like me post-graduate will stay and live in Hamilton. I nearly moved to Toronto to work at MaRs but McMaster offered and I stayed.

Dec 19, 2007, 4:40 AM
It sounds like good initial steps, but I fear it's not nearly enough/drastic enough.

Dec 19, 2007, 5:20 AM
I think the key to transforming Hamilton into a knowledge economy is to make it a place where people WANT to live. When you think about it, people are a lot more mobile than they were before. Skilled workers with specialized skills can live anywhere they want and generally aren't tied to places because of manufacturing advantages anymore. Let me illustrate what I mean. Tech worker Bob is looking at getting a new job and is considering 2 similar offers. One is in the stylish city of San Francisco and the other is in Detroit. Where do you think he'll want to go?

In one of my courses, we had a guest lecturer come in from a local organization called Communitech, which is an organization of representatives from tech companies in Waterloo Region. One of the biggest challenges for the Region's tech sector is labour shortages. There are currently over 2000 positions vacant in Waterloo Region's tech sector, which is a deterrent for new companies who'd otherwise set up shop here. He believes the reason for this is because the Region doesn't offer the same diversity of lifestyle benefits that are offered in more urban cities like Austin or the Silicon Valley area, which appeal to the younger crowd, fresh out of university and looking for an exciting place with a deviant culture, great nightlife, etc. Most of what we get here are people in their early 30s wanting to settle down and have kids and live the suburban lifestyle.

I think the key to making full use of local universities and building the city's knowledge economy is a combination of appealing to a broad demographic group and having the right partnerships and a government that is progressive and forward thinking. Hamilton may not have the latter of those things, but I think a group of patriotic (to their city) residents could have a profound effect in the city reaching its full potential.

Dec 19, 2007, 5:41 AM
I guess it's chicken or the egg. Who's going to move to an area where there isn't jobs in the emerging fields? Both arguments work, but there needs to be employment before people will come.

Dec 19, 2007, 4:35 PM
R&D is a larger employment sector in Hamilton than you realize, onishenko. For example, Hamilton is already home to 31 biotechnology research companies.

Dec 19, 2007, 9:33 PM
interesting stat markbarbera. where did you find that info?

Dec 20, 2007, 2:01 PM
Here is a link to the report I had been reading:


The list of biotech companies begins on page 18 of the report.

Dec 20, 2007, 2:09 PM
There's a lot more than 31 biotech research jobs, list is from 2002. It doesn't include Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute, the new Caradic research centre at the General, CANMET, Golden Horseshoe Biotech, and other smaller biotech centres.

Dec 28, 2007, 8:02 PM
I guess it's chicken or the egg. Who's going to move to an area where there isn't jobs in the emerging fields? Both arguments work, but there needs to be employment before people will come.

For a lot of university grads, getting a job is only half what makes up choosing where to live. It has much to do with quality of life, and let's face it, Hamilton still is tough-and-gritty. Something needs to be done about that if Hamilton wants to attract the best and brightest, and the City can do something, but no one wants to take any bold risks.

Dec 28, 2007, 9:13 PM
bang on. quality of life is key.
tokie1 - what would you list as your top 3 or 5 'quality of life' issues that you'd like to see addressed in Hamilton?

Dec 28, 2007, 10:15 PM
Quality of life: depends where you live. My day to day life is pretty much between Dundas and West Hamilton so I never see any grit or poor people and my quality of life is very high.

Dec 28, 2007, 10:21 PM

just improving general aesthetics in the long run would help i think. Concentrate on enforcing property standards on private property owners and making sure they make their section of land look presentable.

Dundas and West Hamilton/Ancaster are generally the areas in Hamilton that need the least amount of work to make it more presentable. Once you get past John St. downtown the quality drops significantly. Up the mountain is better in some ways, but it can be defined as very bland as well.

Looking forward to see what this city looks like in 5-10 years, especially if city council gets its rear into gear and sees the potential that this city has.

Dec 29, 2007, 2:05 AM
bang on. quality of life is key.
tokie1 - what would you list as your top 3 or 5 'quality of life' issues that you'd like to see addressed in Hamilton?

i'd say there are a few things. the waterfront with the industrial stuff needs to disappear (and it will without any pushing anyways) and be made into greenspace. the city also needs to do something to attract high income people here. i think one thing that could be done is to foster the creation of a large condo project (think small-scale CityPlace/Concord Pacific, or the one being planned in Pickering or Whitby) by the time the SuperGO (if it ever comes to be) arrives. generally though, with regards to the gritty character of hamilton, any large-scale addition of glass or modern-looking development will help. the entire city rightly looks like it was made in the 70's and that doesn't turn people on.

the mountain is also a problem for people who want to start families. it's a pretty low-income and run down place, but i'm not sure if the city can do anything to fix that since it's all pretty sprawled-up already. they could perhaps stop that sprawl from spreading (which it is already) into ancaster & surrounding areas.

Dec 29, 2007, 2:47 AM
While the transition to a post industrial economy is happening (and a good thing), traditional industry will continue to be an important part of Hamilton's economy. The waterfront will remain heavily industrialized during our lifetimes. Both Stelco (er, US Steel Canada) and Dofasco are profitable. In the future, employment in the steel industry may continue its decline, but the steels mills will remain, perhaps their focus will shift to specialized types of steel since they won't be able to compete with foreign companies making plain old steel. Hamilton still has a lot of manufacturing jobs and like it or not, the population is proportionately blue collar. The CANMET lab is moving here because this region is a centre of manufacturing and because of the steel industry. Add to this the fact that Hamilton Harbour is a major port, and you can bet that the waterfront will remain heavily industrialized for the foreseeable future.

There are plenty of areas in Hamilton for white collar and upper middle class types: Kirkendall, Durand, St. Clair, Westdale, Dundas, Ancaster, Aldershot and Burlington for example. Hamilton is not lacking in wealthy people, it's just that the underclass here is highly concentrated and extremely visible.

Dec 29, 2007, 2:24 PM
I have no interest in seeing our steel industry close.
The west harbour is the place where condos, shops and huge redevelopment can happen.
I think Harry Stinson was making this same point in his interview - he said we need a huge, new project that will send out a signal to everyone that Hamilton is here and open for business.
A new downtown tower would sure help in that regard. We've tried 30 years of sprawl and people still think our city sucks, so obviously sprawl doesn't work (we could have just learned from Detroit, Buffalo and L.A instead of wasting 30 years of our city's history and money).

Dec 29, 2007, 4:04 PM
but do you think living on the west harbour, and having a picturesque view towards Lake Ontario would instantly be ruined with Stelco and Dofasco in front of it?

If i had a choice. I would be off to Burlington on the lake compared the the harbour where I wouldn't have to see that sore spot in the Hamilton cityscape.

Honestly, maybe I'm not being fair, but I think the removal of the steel mills would greatly benefit Hamilton by replacing with condos, and new urban development that recognizes a great natural resource being Burlington Bay. In the long run, that's what I believe hurts Hamilton's image the most. They are ugly, unsightly, and degrade the visual appeal of Hamilton when you drive down Burlington St.

When I drive down there. I think instantly of being in Detroit or Flint, Michigan, and last time I checked, that's not a positive image for most people.

Dec 29, 2007, 4:19 PM
It's understandable that people don't want to see industry, but we'll have to live with it. That industry and the port are indispensable parts of Hamilton's economy. The Chemical Valley in Sarnia is quite the sight too.

Dec 29, 2007, 4:23 PM
It's understandable that people don't want to see industry, but we'll have to live with it. That industry and the port are indispensable parts of Hamilton's economy. The Chemical Valley in Sarnia is quite the sight too.
very true flar. I know industry is very important to Hamilton right now, but with the changing world, the increasing global influence in the markets, I just have a feeling that the increased competition from other countries in the steel mills will eventually make the industry in Hamilton unprofitable.

I know they are committed right now to staying Hamilton, but overall, the state of the economy, profitability reign supreme.

the dude
Dec 29, 2007, 4:29 PM
the west harbour is a fantastic area and has nothing to do with our industrial east end. once it’s developed it’ll be the hottest bit of real estate in the region.

i always find it so perplexing that people actually want to see manufacturers close their doors. bring industry to an end and everything will be perfect…except for the masses of unemployed roaming the streets. you know, i’ve never been to a canadian city that didn’t have heavy industry. is toronto not an industrial city? of course it is. ever been to montreal? ever approached the city from the east or the west for that matter? it’s ugly but that doesn’t stop people from loving the city. we need to get over our aesthetic issues with heavy industry. we should be so lucky to have it remain a part of our lives.

as far as dofasco is concerned, it already provides specialized products and services that other steel companies do not. if they don’t survive then i don’t know who will. the pressures they’ll face will be related to the cost of fuel. if it can’t be done cheaply then it won’t happen at all. US steel hamilton currently employs approximately 1,500 people. i think their doors will close sooner rather than later. i really don’t think we’ll ever see those lands cleaned and cleared, though. far too costly.

chris k
Dec 29, 2007, 4:40 PM
I actually think its harder to see the industry from west harbour (bayfront park/pier 4) then from burlington (cemetary area) as you look forward and see the greenspace instead of from burlington looking across the harbour and seeing the industry.

Unless of course its a smog day and you cant see anything;)

The West harbour i think is like a little cove of beaty attached to the larger harbour of hamilton where the industry lies. When I walk along the path, to me it feels like the industry is so far away.

Dec 29, 2007, 4:56 PM
yeah, i should clarify that, I'm saying burlington, like downtown burlington, the other side of the skyway. I kinda always think of Burlington as being east of the QEW, and Aldershot being west of that.

I looked at it on the maps, and yes, it looks gorgeous when you face the west, which is bayfront park. I've taken the train from niagara along there, and the pockets of natural beauty is quite impressive, along the shoreline to Rock Gardens.

Dec 29, 2007, 5:32 PM
if people think Hamilton is in financial straits now, close Dofasco and Stelco and watch out.
The tax money alone would be an incredible loss, and an amount that could never be recouped from residential condos or homes.
Not to mention all of the associated industry in the city that works with the big mills...nobody would be building or buying any condos if they were all to close their doors. We'd be dirt poor.
Vancouver, San Fran, Montreal, Halifax, Boston....all the great port cities of the world have industry and shipping right next to condos, culture and great neighbourhoods. That's my vision for Hamilton. A proper port town.
Looking out over the harbour from the few towers that already exist on John North is spectacular. I've been up in the top of the Harbour Commissioners building too and it's insane. Every Hamiltonian should go up and check out the view.
People would plunk down a TON of money to live there near a year-round waterfront.

Dec 29, 2007, 5:35 PM
I think within our lifetime we'll see Stelco close. The dirty black smokestack mostly seem like they come from Stelco and I believe Stelco owns majority of the land by the waterfront, one reason why they are losing money. With Dofasco everything covered in green.

Could you imagine the cost of the brownfield clean up for Stelco? Probably a billion. Obviously the province would have to help Hamilton out with the brownfield funding.

Don't forget with the Randal Reef funding and construction starting soon it'll help to block the steel mill image away from the Skyway by placing a shipping yard and a park in front of it.

chris k
Dec 29, 2007, 5:44 PM
Again reffering to Vancouver, i think that we should model the waterfront after a Gastown kind of look. Instead of hiding our industrial past, why not embrace it like they do? I beleive they did a fantastic job of restoring the area. I don't think it would be difficult to do that around here.

To see more about gastown go to their website-http://www.gastown.org/

Its also nicely connected with downtown by multiple modes of transportation, always a plus.

Dec 29, 2007, 6:15 PM
I agree completely.
Gastown. Boston's North End. Old Montreal. Meatpacking District in NYC. These are the types of areas we should model our westharbour redevelopment after.
Not Toronto's goofy wall of glass.

Dec 29, 2007, 6:18 PM
wow. I've never been to Vancouver, but I like the concept of Gas town..looks to be a much much smaller area than say where the steel mills are, and also, basically smack dab downtown as well.

for the aforementioned Randal Reef project. Any details on what that will involve?

Dec 29, 2007, 6:52 PM
There's a separate thread for the Randle Reef, $90 million.


^ That's the concept

chris k
Dec 29, 2007, 8:36 PM
Gastown is not a large area but i think we could incorporate that style into the eastern border to the steel mills and give it more character. The steel mills are not even talking of closing yet, we should just incorporate this transition into our current plan to better tie the area and as i previously said, embrace our past.

Jan 16, 2008, 2:11 PM
The future's in Hamilton
Innovation minister says research is transforming city

January 16, 2008
Wade Hemsworth
The Hamilton Spectator

Hamilton's research and technology are transforming the city and have already become international marketing tools for the province, says Ontario's minister responsible for innovation.

John Wilkinson spent Monday and yesterday in Hamilton as part of a provincial innovation tour to acquaint himself with his new portfolio.

Between visits to McMaster University and Mohawk College yesterday, Wilkinson said the city's post-secondary institutions are driving Hamilton's economic recovery and its future.

"What you see here is McMaster and Mohawk seeing their appropriate role of being the generators of wealth in the new Hamilton and regional economy," he said. "They're not ivory towers anymore. They're embedded in our community and they understand their role and my job is to encourage that."

Seated in front of poster-sized renderings of McMaster's plans for its Innovation Park, Wilkinson emphasized that in many ways, the future is already here.

While construction proceeds on the $90-million David Braley Cardiac, Vascular and Stroke Research Institute behind Hamilton General Hospital, the minister said, Dr. Salim Yusuf is bringing accolades to Hamilton through his groundbreaking research with the Population Health Research Institute that will find its new home in the tower.

Across town, he said, McMaster scientists and engineers are pushing other frontiers.

During his university tour, Wilkinson was particularly impressed by medical and scientific research at the nuclear reactor, advanced research in auto manufacturing, and the university's new ultra-high resolution electron microscope. "It's the finest one in the world and it will be years before anybody can catch up with Mac," he said.

Wilkinson said research and innovation can do for Hamilton what Shakespeare did for Wilkinson's hometown of Stratford, Ont. That community reinvented itself, and its theatres now bring some 600,000 visitors every year, he said.

"My message to the people in this region is that you have some tremendous things going on here, and that is going to transform your economy."

Part of Wilkinson's job is to attract talent and investment to Ontario, and he said he uses examples such as McMaster's medical school to sell the province abroad. "One of the finest medical schools in the country and in North America is right here at McMaster," he said.

"It really doesn't matter whether the minister of research and innovation says that. What counts is whether or not it's true ... It is a fact and therefore it's important that I communicate it."

Feb 22, 2008, 2:41 PM
Hamilton home prices soar 77% since 1997

HAMILTON (AM00 CHML) - Hamilton home prices didn't quite keep up with the national average over the past decade, but according to ReMax, they still jumped a whopping 77 percent.

It says home prices in the city went from an average of 151-thousand dollars in 1997 to almost 269-thousand last year.

ReMax researchers say job growth in the rapidly expanding education and healthcare sectors in Hamilton has offset the impact of losses in the steel industry.

It's report says the city's blue-collar status is slowly changing as the workforce shifts to more white-collar professionals.

And it's suggesting the city is facing economic prosperity with billions of dollars earmarked for capital expenditures.

By the way, the national average for home prices jumped 99 percent over the past decade.

Feb 22, 2008, 4:26 PM
/\ Edmonton was 203%...not to compare, just to let you know

EDIT: And about 150% of that was from 2004-2007

Feb 22, 2008, 4:39 PM
real estate didn't keep pace with the rest of country..... ie Hamilton is lagging behind. This is not something to woohoo about Remax.

I've always said there's a reason why Hamilton homes are cheap, relatively speaking.... you get what you pay for.

Feb 22, 2008, 4:47 PM
If you think Hamilton is lagging behind then I suggest you look at the rest of Ontario, Toronto is at 78%, London at 54%, KW 78%, Kingston 79% and Ottawa did the best at 92%.

Feb 25, 2008, 3:41 PM
a piece in today's Spec discussed the fact that Mercedes left Upper James and BMW is not happy there.
A couple of points:

1. folks in debt up to their eyeballs trying to afford McMansions aren't buying overpriced cars.
2. people in Hamilton who consider themselves to be in the 'luxury' retail market always seem to go over to the GTA for their purchases, even if they can find them here. I know this has been the case with mens clothing and now with expensive cars.
We have to be the most self-depreciating, insecure city in the country. Somehow these bozos with money feel more 'important' if they can say they bought their Benz in Oakville instead of Hamilton.
Pretty sad when car dealerships are leaving upper James...maybe realcity was right - the future slums.....

Feb 25, 2008, 10:20 PM
If people buy Mercedes in Oakville over Hamilton only because the image of buying in Oakville there is no other way to describe them other than mentally retarded. I am sorry.

The closing of the dealership can be attributed to nothing other than poor marketing, poor customer service, and a likely unwillingness to renegotiate prices. A car is a car. People will drive to Toledo to get better deals on them and I don't care if they think they are hot shit or not buying Mercedes.

The owner of this franchise is likely sour after losing money and is pointing fingers at Hamilton as the cause. Other than this, is the factor that Mercedes continues to reach new lows in reliability and customer service. Obviously individuals with no business sense. Pathetic.

The sad thing will be that people will read the article and not see these obvious flaws.

Feb 26, 2008, 1:38 AM
yup....poor business people always blame others when they fail. I don't think head office would be forcing people into this market for no good reason. Based on all the stupid gimmicks in their new big box location in Burlington it would appear to me that they are having problems at their old Aldershot location as well.
Don't blame Hamilton because you suck.