There’s been a big deal made by my paper about the lack of politicians who’ve accepted invitations to attend the second annual summit of what’s been dubbed the Hamilton Economic Summit. Editors here have decried the fact that only one area Parliamentarian (Sophia Aggelonitis, MPP) will be there, and that half of the city’s Councillors will be doing other stuff, like flipping burgers for charity (ie: Maria Pearson).
Other commentators, namely, Raise the Hammer, have sided with Councillor Sam Merulla’s reason for not attending because of costs and the fact that it’s hosted by the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, which he calls a “lobby group” which along with the invited participants only represents the old-boy ivory tower corporate types.
I think there’s some validity to the arguments made by both sides, but in my view, as the cartoon suggests, another day of earnest chit chat about economic development in Hamilton in the midst of a recession is simply naval gazing. There’ll be hand shakes, platitudes, and back pats amongst the heavy wafts of after shave cologne as the usual suspects of the city’s movers and shakers class bather over finger foods and zone out during predictable presentations. There’ll be little acknowledgment that when it comes to economic development hardly any of it would be possible were it not for us being a chronic municipal welfare recipient of higher levels of government.
Meanwhile, something much more sensational than charting economic frameworks, and other eye glazing wishful promises set to be declared by this group, will emerge with the latest news that Jim Balsillie is once again trying to salvage a bankrupt southern U.S. NHL franchise and move it closer to this city.
If there’s any legs to this story, the economic development that could potentially come to this city from an NHL team will be way more than whatever the usual suspects of Hamilton’s brain trust come up with at the end of today.