Like all Canada Port Authorities, the Port of Hamilton is an important economic engine in its local community, and throughout the surrounding region. As the largest Canadian port on the Great Lakes system, the Port of Hamilton receives approximately 600 vessel calls per year, handling large volumes of minerals, coal, fuel, agricultural and other products. Of note, the port is critical in supporting the important steel-making industry in Hamilton as well as grain producers in Southern Ontario.
Conducted by CPCS, a new Port of Hamilton Economic Impact Study estimates the economic impact of port activities on the local economy and that of the province of Ontario. The study measures the economic and employment impacts of the terminal and business activities at the Port of Hamilton, and the value of the cargo shipped through Hamilton by vessel.
The port’s role as a local employer is a good starting point in helping to explain the relationship between port and city.
More than 2,100 people work on-site at port terminals, on shop-floors and in warehouses. A further 1,979 have an indirect or induced employment connection with the Port, providing goods and services to port-based customers. Jobs at the Port of Hamilton are concentrated in three areas: transportation and warehousing, manufacturing and engineering/construction. The average salary in these fields is well above the Hamilton and Ontario averages.
On-site employment at the Port of Hamilton has grown 30% since 2009, and this growth ripples through the economy in a number of ways. For example, more than $260 million in labour income is pumped back into the local economy each year through personal spending, and port tenants contribute $5 million in local property taxes each year.
Port cities retain an enviable advantage, concentrating and attracting economic activity within a single location. In Hamilton, port operations have a $416 million impact on Ontario’s GDP, and close to $1 billion in economic activity is tied to the terminal and other business activities conducted on-site at the Port of Hamilton. Port activities are concentrated in high-value enterprises: transportation and warehousing, manufacturing, engineering construction.
The new Port of Hamilton study builds on a 2010 report by Martin & Associates which calculated that the cargo transiting the Port of Hamilton is connected to $6 billion in downstream economic activity and 38,000 jobs in Ontario. HPA’s new study views the port through a more local lens, and digs into the port’s role as an essential supply chain link in some of Ontario’s most important industries: advanced manufacturing, steel-making and agri-food.
Approximately 10 million tonnes of cargo flows through the port each year, holding a value of $1.9 billion. The port’s highest total-value commodities are finished steel, soybeans and iron ore.
In particular, the Port of Hamilton has emerged as critical infrastructure within Ontario’s agri-food supply chain. As a primary export gateway for Ontario-grown corn, wheat, and soybeans, the Port of Hamilton offers a competitive advantage to Ontario grain producers. The port is located in close proximity to Ontario’s grain production areas, and provides a direct route to the St. Lawrence Seaway.
The Port of Hamilton is now home to three grain export terminals, two fertilizer terminals, and one of Ontario’s largest oilseed crush operations. Many of these facilities are either new, or have undergone significant expansion in recent years. In fact, more than $200 million has been invested in agri-food infrastructure since 2009.
The result is captured in the positive feedback the port receives from Ontario grain producers, who say the presence of multiple terminals at the Port of Hamilton provides competitive options and better export access. Hamilton’s advantages in location, efficiency and choice are borne out in the form of growing agricultural tonnage. Between 2009 and 2015, agricultural tonnage has increased from 9.8% to 18%.
Hamilton is a proud and dynamic port city, with a buoyant economy and optimistic outlook. Through sound research, the port strives to better understand our connection to the community around us, and leverage our value to promote employment and prosperity.
The full Port of Hamilton Economic Impact Study will be released in June. Look for it on www.hamiltonport.ca