Hey Toronto, come see the new Hamil­ton, you’ll like it … hon­estly

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - GRAHAM ROCKINGHAM grock­ing­ham@thes­pec.com 905-526-3331 | @Rock­atTheSpec

AHIGH-POWERED DELEGATION rep­re­sent­ing the lo­cal busi­ness and cul­tural com­mu­ni­ties is tak­ing over a trendy build­ing on Toronto’s Queen Street West for two days to show an in­vite-only au­di­ence what the new Hamil­ton has to of­fer.

They’re call­ing it the “Hamil­ton Con­sulate.”

Or­ga­nized by the city’s Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment, the May 31-June 1 event will fea­ture in­dus­try pan­els, talks, meet­ings, break­fasts, bands, lunches and par­ties, as well as a fash­ion show from Hamil­ton de­sign­ers such as Cop­p­ley and DeMon­tigny.

Mayor Fred Eisen­berger will be there, along with for­mer Pitts­burgh mayor Tom Mur­phy, as will Dun­das film pro­ducer Fred Fuchs and Other Bird restau­ra­teur Erin Dun­ham, all tout­ing “Canada’s big­gest ur­ban come­back story.”

The fi­nal day will cul­mi­nate with the an­nounce­ment of the mu­si­cal lineup for this year’s Su­per­crawl. The Su­per­crawl party will fea­ture Hamil­ton mu­si­cians, in­clud­ing mem­bers of the Hamil­ton Phil­har­monic Orches­tra, and cater­ing sup­plied by Hamil­ton food trucks.

The event is be­ing held at The Bur­roughes, a fully ren­o­vated multi-level com­plex near Bathurst and Queen West that was once home to a fur­ni­ture re­tail store.

“It’s a takeover ba­si­cally, a two-day takeover by Hamil­ton of the City of Toronto,” says Su­per­crawl di­rec­tor Tim Po­to­cic. “That space in Toronto is very cool, and it is neat to be part of some­thing about Hamil­ton that is in an­other city.”

Su­per­crawl is ex­pect­ing to draw more than 200,000 peo­ple to the down­town core for its ninth an­nual street fes­ti­val Sept. 8 to 10. Last year, Po­to­cic es­ti­mates more than 10 per cent of that num­ber came from Toronto. He would like to bring in even more.

Still, Su­per­crawl or­ga­niz­ers thought long and hard be­fore de­cid­ing to an­nounce their lineup as part of the Hamil­ton Con­sulate event.

“We wouldn’t have done it in Toronto un­less it was part of this big­ger ini­tia­tive,” says Po­to­cic, who is ex­pect­ing as many as 200 mu­sic in­dus­try reps and me­dia to at­tend Su­per­crawl’s Hamil­ton Con­sulate party.

Glen Nor­ton, the city’s eco­nomic devel­op­ment di­rec­tor, says the city is spend­ing $42,000 on the event with an al­most equal amount be­ing con­trib­uted by pri­vate sec­tor spon­sors. Nor­ton be­lieves it is a small in­vest­ment con­sid­er­ing the po­ten­tial ben­e­fits.

The goal is to at­tract in­vest­ment — real es­tate, prop­erty devel­op­ment, tech-sec­tor star­tups, film­mak­ers, food­ies and mu­sic fans. The key is to keep it in­ter­est­ing.

“This is a fun con­cept, a busi­ness and cul­tural ex­change called The Hamil­ton Con­sulate,” says Nor­ton. “Let’s be bold, go to Toronto, put a flag out front and for two days, we are sov­er­eign Hamil­ton land. We’re try­ing to get Mayor Tory to is­sue some sort of procla­ma­tion.”

Part of the fun will be a “speed-dat­ing” ses­sion, where rep­re­sen­ta­tives from a va­ri­ety of Hamil­ton in­sti­tu­tions make them­selves avail­able for one-on-one ques­tions, three min­utes max, then on to the next one.

Toronto mar­ket­ing firm Kim Graham and As­so­ci­ates, hired by the city to or­ga­nize the event, has a lot to do with the “con­sulate” con­cept.

Graham, a Hamil­ton res­i­dent for the past six years, is a re­spected player in the Toronto busi­ness com­mu­nity — real es­tate mar­ket­ing is her spe­cialty. She knows the key peo­ple in both Hamil­ton and Toronto. It’s a nat­u­ral for her to bring them to­gether.

“I fell in love with Hamil­ton in­stantly,” says Graham, who com­mutes to Toronto most week­days. “And I have no prob­lem telling peo­ple that Hamil­ton is a great place to be, whether it is to live, work or come in and en­joy mu­sic. I think Hamil­ton is fan­tas­tic.”

In­vi­ta­tions have been sent out to se­lected in­di­vid­u­als in the Toronto busi­ness and cul­tural com­mu­ni­ties, with each ses­sion hav­ing a dif­fer­ent tar­get group. Ac­cord­ing to Graham, in­ter­est in the event is high, with most ses­sions ex­pected to be “over­sub­scribed.”

Black­bird Stu­dios, a lo­cal de­sign com­pany that pro­duces its dis­tinc­tive line of cloth­ing and ac­ces­sories at the Cot­ton Fac­tory, is one of the lo­cal com­pa­nies that will be spot­lighted at the Hamil­ton Con­sulate.

Black­bird co-owner Lynn Be­bee ap­pre­ci­ates the ex­po­sure for her own com­pany, but also sees it as an im­por­tant op­por­tu­nity for Hamil­ton’s emerg­ing fash­ion scene.

“It’s re­ally just the recog­ni­tion that fash­ion is hap­pen­ing in this city,” Be­bee says. “Black­bird is al­ready man­u­fac­tur­ing in the city. We want other de­sign­ers to keep their man­u­fac­tur­ing here. We need to make peo­ple in Toronto aware that there is some­thing hap­pen­ing here, get them work­ing with Hamil­ton de­sign­ers and keep the man­u­fac­tur­ing rolling.”

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