Hamil­ton in pro­mo­tional over­drive

The am­bi­tious tar­get: To get more in­vest­ment in ‘Canada’s big­gest ur­ban come­back story’

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - AN­DREW DRESCHEL

The City of Hamil­ton’s eco­nomic devel­op­ment de­part­ment is go­ing into mar­ket­ing over­drive to at­tract GTA in­vestors and de­vel­op­ers.

This Wed­nes­day, ec-dev is lead­ing a swash­buck­ling two-day busi­ness and cul­ture pro­mo­tional hap­pen­ing in Toronto dubbed the “Hamil­ton Con­sulate.”

The eclec­tic event is in­tended to pub­li­cize and capitalize on what’s be­ing billed as “Canada’s big­gest ur­ban come­back story.”

That fol­lows on the heels of a $30,000 mul­ti­me­dia ad buy that in­cluded at­ten­tion­grab­bing poster style ads in the Fi­nan­cial Post and on­line dig­i­tal dis­plays high­light­ing Hamil­ton as a great place to in­vest and build a busi­ness.

“Next stop, Hamil­ton — West Har­bour GO sta­tion open” blares one of the half-page news­pa­per ads in a colour­ful and con­fi­dent cam­paign that dove­tails with this week’s Hamil­ton Con­sulate.

Make no mis­take. This is not about at­tract­ing Toronto tourists or res­i­den­tial com­muters.

“Clearly we’re try­ing to raise aware­ness in the Toronto busi­ness mar­ket and get more in­vest­ment,” says eco­nomic devel­op­ment direc­tor Glen Nor­ton.

The ini­tia­tives are fuelled by the de­part­ment’s new five-year ac­tion plan and “stretch tar­gets” for grow­ing the city’s econ­omy and gen­er­at­ing new com­mer­cial and in­dus­trial dol­lars to ease the dis­pro­por­tion­ate prop­erty tax bur­den on home­own­ers.

The Hamil­ton Con­sulate is cost­ing the city about $40,000, with roughly the same amount of money com­ing from spon­sor­ships and in-kind ser­vices from the Hamil­ton busi­ness com­mu­nity.

The May 31 to June 1 event is be­ing held at The Bur­roughes, a ren­o­vated his­toric build­ing at Queen Street West and Bathurst. The pro­gram of panel dis­cus­sions and dis­plays will show­case, among other things, Hamil­ton’s boom­ing real es­tate mar­ket, arts and cul­ture scene, food and fash­ion land­scape, and grow­ing tech clus­ters.

It kicks off with Mayor Fred Eisen­berger dis­cussing post-in­dus­trial ur­ban re­newal with for­mer Pitts­burgh mayor Tom Mur­phy.

That’s fol­lowed by a panel dis­cus­sion on Hamil­ton’s in­vest­ment cli­mate with Ja­son Thorne, the city’s gen­eral man­ager of eco­nomic devel­op­ment and plan­ning, and sev­eral de­vel­op­ers, in­clud­ing Toronto condo de­vel­oper Brad Lamb, one of the builders be­hind the pro­posed “Tele­vi­sion City” on the old CHCH-TV prop­erty down­town.

Ac­cord­ing to Nor­ton, more than 1,000 in­vi­ta­tions were sent to tar­geted play­ers in the busi­ness and cul­tural com­mu­ni­ties across the GTA.

He says the idea of a splashy event in Toronto has been kicked around for a cou­ple of years, but the Hamil­ton Con­sulate con­cept was brought into fo­cus in part­ner­ship with the Toronto mar­ket­ing firm Kim Gra­ham and As­so­ci­ates. Gra­ham lives in Hamil­ton and has space at Seed­works Ur­ban Of­fices down­town.

The print and dig­i­tal ad cam­paign with Post­media kicked off in Jan­uary. Ec-dev mar­ket­ing co-or­di­na­tor Michael Marini says the idea is to at­tract GTA busi­nesses with the “very hard eco­nomic ar­gu­ments” of a less-con­gested and less-ex­pen­sive ur­ban set­ting that also has a tremen­dous amount to of­fer from a qual­ity-of-life per­spec­tive.

That’s re­flected in the sleek print ads, pro­duced by Hamil­ton’s The Laun­dry De­sign Works, which fea­ture art­ful images of man­u­fac­tur­ing, health ser­vices, the art crawl, har­bour, and cul­tural, cre­ative and tech sec­tors.

Ac­cord­ing to Nor­ton, pre­lim­i­nary an­a­lyt­ics mea­sur­ing the ef­fec­tive­ness of the cam­paign are look­ing good.

They’ve had al­most a 75 per in­crease in “new vis­i­tors” to the de­part­ment’s web­site, with some 55 per cent in the tar­geted 25-to-45 age bracket.

Ad­di­tion­ally, the dig­i­tal ads that roll prior to a news clip scored 178,000 im­pres­sions, of which 122,824 watched the whole thing.

A full anal­y­sis pack­age is pend­ing. Mean­while, ec-dev will track the suc­cess of the Hamil­ton Con­sulate through upticks in busi­ness meet­ings, calls and scout­ing mis­sions to the city.

Ec-dev has to try new things to keep devel­op­ment mo­men­tum go­ing, says Nor­ton. Through a combo of con­tent and panache, that ap­pears to be ex­actly what they’re do­ing.

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