The Business of Local: Perspectives from Hamilton's Young Professionals

Introduction

On October 18, 2014, the Sustainability Professionals Network (SPN) hosted a workshop on the business of local in Hamilton at the annual HiveX conference. The theme, “The Business of Local” was intended to connect to the overarching theme of the conference, which was ambition. The theme of ambition, referring to the strong desire to do or achieve something, was chosen because of its importance in developing a strong and vibrant city – as long as it is pursued with the right plans and principles. As such, the SPN identified that an investment in our community, environment, and economy at the local level is a key ingredient to fostering ambition within our city; making it an even better place to live work, play, and learn. Through speaker presentations and facilitated round table discussions, topic experts and over 100 members of the Hamilton community came together to discuss what investing locally means for the City of Hamilton. The purpose of this document is to offer a summary of the ideas that were presented and to provide a platform to support continued discussion and broader community engagement. What Is The Business of Local? The business of local is a catalyst for sustainable thinking and part of a systematic approach to sustainably investing in communities. The SPN’s session on exploring the business of local seeks to reinforce the concept of ambitious and sustainable growth. By investing resources such as time, energy and money, into our local society, environment and economy, more sustainable and equitable growth can be achieved. Furthermore, investing locally can act as a policy imperative that considers the negative impacts of traditional growth strategies (Victor, 2008).

What is The Business of Local

Primary to SPN’S mandate is our goal to foster a more sustainable community in Hamilton by connecting groups, people and projects through education, community engagement and collaboration. Traditional thinking on topics of sustainable cities, local economic development, and community revitalization usually involves the concept of ‘buy local’ as one of the major investigative themes (Shuman, 2000). In order to expand on this concept, the SPN developed a definition of the “Business of Local” for the purpose of the session at the HiveX conference. While it involves “buy local” principles, it goes beyond this concept to embody the prevailing attitudes towards local economies. While direct investment, real estate and local buying power are all important elements, it can be argued that climate change adaptation, eco-system services, industrial ecology, green energy, efficient buildings, sustainable transportation, neighbourhood associations, community advocacy and volunteering are equally as important to enhancing quality of life and well-being for all (Cooke & Lazzeretti, 2008; Greene & Blakely, 2014; Hawkins & Lovins, 1999; Porter, 2000; Jackson, 2009; Jackson & Victor, 2013; Victor, 2008).

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