As each new small business opens in the International Village, a sense of excitement grows within the community. With small investment comes larger investment; a phenomenon that we are witnessing that all over the core. When one person invests their livelihood to open the shop or restaurant of their dreams in downtown Hamilton, it shows confidence in where things are going and it leads to others following and taking the risk to do the same.
Over the last five years in the International Village we have seen a huge influx of small businesses in the area. We are lucky to have those longstanding businesses as anchors to the area. They have lasted through the ‘tough times’ in downtown and still survive to prove that you can indeed make it here. The Denninger’s, Black Forest Inns, GW Thompson Pawnbrokers & Jewellers and the Tundra Leathers are the foundation of our business community, and from there we are lucky to have others such as Theatre Aquarius and the Ticats head office as staples in our area to prove it is worth being here.
Several specialized boutiques, shops, cafes and restaurants have opened over the last five years and this has made the International Village a destination. The excitement on the street from both business owners and residents is infectious. People are taking take pride in their community. Graffiti and crime numbers are way down. A sense of ‘community watch’ now exists and those vacant storefronts that left us with a feeling of being incomplete are barely there.
Not a week goes by now where I don’t have people contacting me for information on where they can rent or buy property in the International Village. Albeit a large number of those people are from Toronto as the word has spread that our beloved Hamilton is the place to pick up real estate for next to nothing compared to their city. They come here and are blown away with the possibilities and always tell me they are surprised at how beautiful this city is.
Downtown Hamilton has seen its share of struggle. The unfortunate perception of the past has been that it’s a lost cause. I truly believe that this has turned around and the starting point for the change is investment in small business. You have to give people a place they want to go to. A reason to get in their cars from other parts of the city and venture out to the core. The shops, restaurants, boutiques, entertainment venues and cafes are all doing this. For the first time in several decades, there is a reason to come downtown Hamilton. The reason is to check out small business and it’s what we’ve all waited for.
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