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