By Bruce Wood, Hamilton Port Authority

Over the last five years, the Hamilton Port Authority (HPA) has experienced remarkable growth, driven by a focus on diversification and attracting strategic tenants. The Port of Hamilton is now home to 120 tenant businesses, directly employing more than 1,600 people at port-located facilities. We’ve developed strategic industry clusters that help to drive economic development throughout Hamilton and Ontario’s Golden Horseshoe region.

Our recent success now presents us with a challenge: as the industry and the city changes, how do we maintain our pace of growth?

The roadmap for the next five years will take us in new directions, but our growth mindset and commitment to innovation will continue to guide everything we do. Looking ahead, our strategy includes:

• Fostering deeper, more integrated relationships with our tenants and port users – to create more value and benefit to being a Port Partner;

• Expanding the port’s physical footprint, and extending the value of our multimodal transportation infrastructure to a wider geography in North Hamilton, to create a port prosperity district.

The attraction of highly strategic tenants has been an important factor in our success so far. The value we provide in both real estate and transportation services generates multiple revenue streams for the port, and offers a cost advantage to our users. By continuing this vertical integration approach, we can enhance these partner relationships in new directions.

We will continue to develop our multimodal infrastructure to ensure the most efficient transportation connections to users on, and surrounding port property. Most recently, we have been expanding our rail capacity and enhancing our infrastructure; as a result, our rail car volumes are up 17 per cent last year.

Put together, these initiatives confer a competitive advantage to locating within Hamilton’s growing port community.

While enhancing our existing relationships within the port prosperity district, we are also looking to add to HPA’s portfolio of properties. As the region’s economy has evolved over the years, Hamilton has been left with a number of industrial properties with potential for brownfield redevelopment. HPA has the experience required to repurpose these properties into productive, modern industrial uses. That was just what we did with a former Stelco steel rod mill that we rehabilitated and repurposed into a new Yellowline asphalt cement facility. Making excellent use of its port location, this terminal offers marine access, and proximity to the GTHA construction market.

We are seeking out brownfield properties with good potential: multi-storey ceiling heights, indoor rail access, and overhead cranes capable of handling project cargoes. These ongoing investments are helping to ensure the future of Hamilton’s manufacturing economy, by modernizing properties, and facilitating connections to a first-rate transportation hub.

The next five years at the Port of Hamilton will require a significant change in strategy and operations. To succeed, we will be relying on our best attributes as an organization: our customer focus, our willingness to take smart risks, and a culture of staff empowered to make good decisions. It is an exciting time to be leading southern Ontario’s busiest port. We’re confident that by embracing new ideas and directions, our next five years will be our best yet.