Making connections

Concepts for the Hamilton guide

The recent news for development in Hamilton has generally been positive. The unemployment rate is consistently below the provincial and national average, and industrial vacancy rates are declining [50]. These results specifically align with four of the six strategic initiatives from the City's own Economic Development Strategy:

• Infrastructure for innovation
• Workforce development
• Business development
• Marketing and outreach

What is less obvious is how the other two strategies are being fulfilled:

• Community development
• Quality of life

This approach may imply that the success of these two flows through the success of the other four, which has led to calls that the City lacks strategic vision. But the strategic vision is clear, as written, so it seems more likely that either the vision does not align with what Hamilton's citizens want or the vision is not being clearly communicated. As noted earlier, the City has not fully addressed the community identity problems that still linger 12 years after amalgamation.

With this in mind, concepts drawn from this section can be applied to The Hamilton Book, as follows:

• The way to build a sense of place and cohesive identity is through a strategy of collective learning, so citizens can learn together about their common history, what the City is today and what to expect in the near future as the City evolves.

• Building a sense of place can lead to the development of a place brand that the citizens and visitors can embrace.

• Place marketing also helps build the City's image to visitors, who may also be potential investors and entrepreneurs.

• Hamilton is a region-wide city; therefore The Hamilton Book must cover the City as a whole and highlight its competitive advantages of its geography, location, urban and rural resources, and environment, yet be sensitive to the communities within it.

• Highlight the City's capability for resilience and renewal, which is leading to revitalization.

• Enhance the image of the City, which is evolving from an industrial one to a diverse post-industrial economy.

• Be true to the 'place' that is Hamilton, recognizing that there are no one-size-fits-all solutions that can be drawn from other regions

• Avoid the image-reality gap by addressing both positive and negative attributes.

Urban green tourism encompasses social, environmental and economic aspects of ecology, built environment, economic development social awareness and promoting unique, local travel experiences. The word "green" has broad connotation, as does "sustainable," and the words are often used in similar contexts. Green could imply a greater environmental focus than may be appropriate for this project. However, it is clear that the goals of urban green tourism, as originally defined in by the Green Tourism Association [6], align with the underlying philosophy of The Hamilton Book. One of the book's themes is to show the connection between the urban city and the rural/natural environment that surrounds it.

Related Articles:

Next >>: Hamilton's Community Profile

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Research Paper Conclusion

Project Background

The preceding is adapted from the academic research paper that accompanied the book, Hamilton: Brutal Beauty | Hidden Heritage - The making of a guidebook to the City of Hamilton as a practical exercise in context-sensitive place marketing and community economic development. (Dunlop, 2013)

© Copyright Ian Dunlop, University of Waterloo, 2013
Published by Strategic Interchange (Div. of Dun-Map Inc.)