Can Hamilton create new jobs while it continues to operate with approaches based on path dependencies?
Two articles from yesterday's Hamilton Spectator remind us that the hope for new markets to evolve in our city out of its Education/Medical Complex is simply that - a hope.
The first article, a rush-to-feel-good tech story titled Mac aims to shine with solar power research network, underscores the near-impossible challenges we are facing in developing new markets locally. Eric McGuinness is only five years late in filing this story.
We seem to have made a fetish of showing up for the party just a tad too fashionably late!
Having completely missed the first-movers market making phase in this sector, we may still not be too late in developing local job growth in this sub-sector of the green/clean-tech market segment - if our focus is in design / management / sales / service / warehousing / logistics of cheaper clean-tech imports to the consumer sector across North America, instead of now trying to supply our manufacturers with tools to compete with the first-movers who have already established beachheads and own the price and tooling advantage over us.
Now, accepting our role as a value-added service provider instead of a market maker/leader could create local jobs in this sector. But that would require some humility and a lot of swift and adept thinking.
Bringing large currency cheques to universities is no doubt sexy, but the state of our job market outside of the Education/Medical Complex speaks for its effectiveness.
If only $1 million out of the $5 million in the above story could have been used to seed our community with private sector innovation nodes across all neighborhoods: this could have directly harnessed the brains of hundreds of our overeducated unemployed across the city - our wasted intellectual brownfields sector that knows more than a thing or two about such things.
A sector that knows and understands market-timing and possesses the urgency required to create real jobs and economic growth via a Made-in-Hamilton green / clean-tech market.
The second article is about a sheer stroke of genius in Urban Development which can turn our un-productive urban land (which is soon going to be in short supply in our core) - into productive urban land with zero assessment - but which still qualifies as a downtown growth story: $5M mosque planned for downtown.
Our path dependencies in the the Religious Sector, just like our Education sector, will bring more people into our core on certain days and time of the week, but will also ensure that urban development projects in these two sectors will continue to provide zero assessment revenue!
Is this a direct result of our planning approach - an election-year stunt - or are we really a highly educated and religious community?
Better planning decisions will enable us to look our residential ratepayers in the eyes - if only to convince them that we are doing our best to make a worse situation better, and at least looking for land uses that will increase our commercial/green-industrial assessment.
Let us learn to treat our disposable assets - our fallow lands and our people - with a bit more respect. For they are our only chance left to jump start our economy. The rest is about hope!
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