Low costs heighten Hamilton’s competitiveness

Low costs heighten Hamilton’s competitiveness

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A new report makes the case for Hamilton’s competitive attributes within the megalopolis stretching out from Toronto’s traditional business centre. Real estate analysts with Colliers International applaud the former steel manufacturing hub’s transformation from a single-industry economy to a diversified mid-sized anchor city.

“Compared to Toronto, our report identifies Hamilton as relatively lower in overall costs,” says Sydney Hamber, a Colliers senior vice president based in Burlington, Ontario. “It has highly skilled labour, redevelopment opportunities, much lower commute times and a full range of lifestyle amenities.”

Business and housing costs are identified as the city’s leading competitive advantage. The commercial property tax rate is $0.70 to $1 lower per square foot than in other cities in the area commonly known as the 905 region, such as Burlington, Oakville, Mississauga, Brampton. For residential ratepayers and prospective homebuyers, Hamilton’s median home value of $269,000 is significantly lower than $410,000 in Burlington, $439,000 in Toronto or $554,000 in Oakville.

The report suggests Hamilton’s potential emergence as a secondary anchor in the Greater Toronto Area is analogous to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which is similarly in Chicago’s orbit. “With a large amount of today’s talented workforce wanting to live, work and play within the same neighbourhoods, medium-sized anchor cities are competitive in offering this lifestyle at affordable prices,” it maintains.

In particular, Hamilton’s health care and postsecondary education sectors provide employment, stimulate spinoff research and development activity, and help draw new residents to the city. Notably, professional, scientific and professional services grew by 11.3 per cent in the downtown core in the period from 2010 to 2014 and now account for about 18 per cent of downtown employment.

That workforce enjoys some of the shortest commuting times in the Greater Toronto region. It’s estimated that one-third of Hamilton residents live within five kilometres of their workplace. Improved connections to Toronto’s Union Station via soon-to-be-completed GO train infrastructure are also expected to ease longer travels.

“With new developments throughout the city, particularly in the downtown core, and a new operational GO station this summer, Hamilton is an ideal location for companies looking to expand or relocate,” asserts Jason Thorne, general manager of planning and economic development for the city of Hamilton. “Hamilton is affordable not only in terms of overall operating cost, but also affordability for their employees in the residential market.”