Despite the knee-jerk cynicism and Hammer-hating rants, our economic prospects are looking pretty good.
By Jason Leach
Published October 24, 2010
this article has been updated
In the world of news and public discourse, it is always easy to find issues to complain about and to rant over. However, I think most citizens would agree that a parade of good news would be most welcome. After all, we care about our communities and want to see a successful future being developed.
2010 is shaping up to be one of those great news years in our city. For the first time our city's history, Hamilton is about to surpass $1 billion in building permits for the year.
Our previous record was $820 million in 2008, before the economic recession began. The very fact that we are about to shatter $1 billion, while the rest of the world slowly struggles to cope with the ongoing recession, is absolutely a good news story and one that we should all be proud of.
In the past five years, Hamilton has added 6,000 net new jobs. Again, this is positive news in the face of tough economic times.
I certainly don't intend to pretend that there aren't people with serious needs in our city, and everything is just fine. We all know of the struggles and the huge need that continues to exist in Hamilton.
But along with many other wise investments, creating jobs and increasing the commercial/industrial tax base is a large piece of the poverty puzzle. It will be a great day for Hamilton when we can ease the tax burden on home owners, especially those in the lower city who pay the highest tax rates in the region.
To that end, we received more great news yesterday during Bill Kelly's 'Unleashed' show from City Hall. (You can listen to it: October 22, Hour 2, Segment 3.)
The Director of Economic Development for the City mentioned to Bill that they regularly hear comments in the news and online blogs that Hamilton needs to be more like surrounding regions when it comes to building our tax base.
He then informed listeners that in 2009 the City of Brampton had $160 million in commercial/industrial building permits. That same year, the City of Mississuaga also had roughly $160 million in industrial/commercial building permits.
The City of Hamilton had $309 million in commercial/industrial building permits in 2009 and we are on track for the same in 2010.
I don't care what your political leaning is or what your preferred method of economic development is. The fact that Hamilton had more commercial/industrial growth than Mississuaga and Brampton combined is fantastic news.
And we're going to repeat it again in 2010.
Earlier this week I encouraged citizens to get informed on real issues and be sure to make your vote count on Monday.
Listening to CHML on Fridays when Bill Kelly visits various companies, educational institutions and experts is quite different from the rest of the week, when we have to endure rants encouraging listeners to "vote for any idiot, so long as they aren't the incumbent", or the "sky is falling in Hamilton" routine that has become the norm due to our city's tough go over the past few decades.
Good news simply doesn't garner the calls or emails that crazy rants or bad news does.
The other day I had the pleasure of meeting David Premi, the architect of our fabulous new library/market complex, and he made the comment, "We are on the cusp" when referring to the rapid sell-out of new condo/loft projects that has been taking place in our downtown area recently.
For years, people have said "we're on the cusp" more out of optimism and a view towards our future.
Today, such statements can be made with the backing of sold out lofts, thousands of new jobs, $1 billion in building permits, commercial/industrial development that is outpacing neighbouring municipalities, great rankings from the Conference Board of Canada and EcDev rankings across North America.
Maybe yelling and screaming makes for great radio, but in the real world Hamilton is in the midst of our most successful period in many years, probably decades.
We've got a long way to go, but it's sure nice to realize that we're turning the corner and appear to be heading in the right direction. The next time someone pulls out the tired old line about how we need to be "more like Mississuaga", let them know the facts and suggest that these days Mississuaga wishes they were a little more like Hamilton.
Update: added link to audio for Bill Kelly's radio program. You can jump to the updated paragraph.
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