Downtown Hamilton has come a long way in the past decade, but public attitudes even in Hamilton about the state of its core have largely failed to catch up. Hamilton's Department of Planning and Economic Development (EcDev) is trying to rectify that.
I met today with Michael Marini, a marketing coordinator with EcDev, to talk about his department's initiative to engage more directly with the city to promote Hamilton as a good place to invest.
One aspect of that initiative is to get a clearer sense of the prevailing attitudes about downtown Hamilton. Toward that end, the Invest in Hamilton team has launched an online poll for the next month to garner opinions on what people think of the downtown core.
You can access the survey directly.
Marini noted that his department plans to use the results to decide how best they can counteract perceived negativity about the downtown core and its prospects. In a press release issued today, the department noted $13.5 million in downtown residential loans resulting in $216 million in increased property values and 755 new residential units.
Incidentally, I suggested that the downtown residential loan program should be extended to commercial and industrial projects - particularly to provide bridge financing for brownfield remediation. (Of course, such a program demands full transparency to avoid abuses.)
The two issues are similar in that they both involve banks that are afraid to loan money. The residential loan program has proven that such investment is prudent and viable; the next step is to prove to banks that cleaning up brownfields is also a viable investment.
In light of its long singular infatuation with highway-accessible greenfield employment lands, it's nice to see that EcDev is taking a closer look at how it can cultivate real economic growth and development in the downtown core, including seeking ways to cultivate Hamilton's creative industries.
Upcoming steps include a planned re-launch of the Invest in Hamilton website to make it more user-friendly, a new website called Hamilton Renewal that will redirect to the city's downtown development site, a new website to promote the various BIAs in the core, and outreach into new social media, including Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
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