Accidental Activist

The Fun Factor

If we had access to some kind of fun factor scale, then how would Hamilton compare to other cities around the globe? Let's find out.

By Ben Bull
Published May 26, 2006

A recent survey of businesses in the UK identified four main factors that they consider when looking to set up shop, re-locate, or stay put in a town. Numbers two through four were:

  1. The availability of premises,
  2. Efficiency of transport infrastructure, and
  3. Operating costs.

The number one factor for relocation was the workforce.

Companies like DePuy and Gaz De France,which recently relocated their head offices to Leeds, in Yorkshire, cited "the availability of a well-trained and qualified workforce" as the main criteria in their decision to move.

So how has Leeds, a town that has always seemed to struggle to set itself apart, managed to attract such a diverse workforce? The answer is quite simple: by having fun.

Leeds, like prosperous towns all over Europe and North America, has embraced the fun factor as it forges its way into the new economy. Their investment in street festivals, building restorations, and the creation of pedestrian friendly people places are all part of a city growth strategy that has helped to create a cycle of positive momentum that encourages an influx of arts and recreational industries and attracts a diverse and qualified population. This, in turn, draws major employers to the city.

This cycle is complimented by the necessary attention to the other stated relocation criteria – suitable premises, good transport networks, and competitive operation costs - as well as to the urban growth principle of 'building on your strengths'. But the focus has clearly been on one simple goal: having fun.

The recent emphasis on fun city living is evident in towns all over Europe and the UK. Liverpool's recent award as European City of Culture, Manchester's enduring city slogan "Commonwealth City" and even towns like Bilboa, the "Steel City" of Spain, have embraced the hugely successful Guggenheim Museum as a way to boost their fun loving credentials and set themselves up for the future.

So how does Hamilton measure up? If we had access to some kind of "fun factor scale," then how would Hamilton compare to other cities around the globe? Well, why don't we see? In one of my more idle moments while the kids were out of the house I put together a rudimentary Fun Factor Scale, precisely for this purpose.

Raise the Hammer has posted the Fun Factor Scale as an online form, and we'll save your entries so we can summarize them for a future article. To use the form, you'll need:

To get you started, we've placed Hamilton on the scale, plus room for three more cities that you can pick yourself. What I'd like you to do, for this week's RTH homework exercise please, is to take a flip through and enter your fun factor scores in each of the boxes. I will do the same and next issue we'll compare notes and see how we fared.

And you thought RTH was just going to be more whining and complaining this week!


Well, what are you waiting for? What else are you going to do today – work? Go on, give it a shot, I think you may be surprised by the results. I'll check back next week when we take a look at my scores and possibly get a little closer to the answer of that burning question: "Hey Hamilton! Are you having fun yet?"

Raise The Hammer's Fun Factor Scale

OK folks, thinking caps on! Using a weighting scale is really quite easy if you know how (which I do – I think). Here's how the calculateions work. The form:

  1. Multiplies your scores for each ranking by the weighting you assigned. For example, in the chart below I gave Hamilton a score of 5 out of 10 for their sports teams (Go Ticats!). Multiply that 5 by the weighting of 2 (%), and you get - 10.
  2. Divides that value by the total number of fun factors (34). In our example that gives us: 10/34 = 0.29 (round it up).
  3. Multiplies the score by 100 to get a nice round number: 0.29*100 = 29
  4. Adds up all your scores to get a total fun factor score for each city! Compare the totals to see how much fun each city really is!

To demonstrate, here's an example chart using just two of the 34 fun factors:

RTH Fun Factor Scale (Demonstration)
Fun Factor Ranking (out of 10) Weighting
Hamilton Toronto London (UK) Leeds (UK)
Sports Team 5 (69) 6 (71) 6 (71) 8 (94) 4
Walkable Neighbourhoods 3 (35) 7 (82) 4 (47) 5 (47) 4
Scores on the Doors 94 153 118 141

...And the winner is – Toronto! (for now – see how they fare when all the results are tallied next week.)

Ben Bull lives in downtown Toronto. He's been working on a book of short stories for about 10 years now and hopes to be finished tomorrow. He also has a movie blog.


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