The Biggest Industries in Hamilton

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The City of Hamilton is quickly becoming a major player in the Canadian business landscape. The Greater Hamilton Region is currently the third-largest urban economy in Ontario.

There is no slowdown in sight. Growing industries continue to develop in Hamilton, making it one of the fastest-growing communities in Canada. Companies in Hamilton can access a vast labour pool with the GTA and U.S. border nearby.

Hamilton supports innovation and encourages business growth. The McMaster Innovation Park (MIP) at McMaster University supports startups of all sizes, helping them transform ideas into opportunities.

The following list showcases the top Hamilton industries. We’ll explore why they became the biggest industries in Hamilton and how they are contributing to the city’s continual economic development.

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The 6 Leading Industries in Hamilton, Ontario


1. Manufacturing

Hamilton has led Canada’s manufacturing sector for over a century. The city is particularly known for being the country’s biggest steel producer. Research shows that 60% of Canada’s steel production has come from Hamilton.

With this much steel at its disposal, the city has also grown to become a giant in automotive, aerospace, and machinery manufacturing. Altogether, manufacturing in Hamilton fuels 4% of Ontario’s total economy.

The reason why Hamilton became Canada’s steel giant is mainly due to Stelco and Dofasco establishing themselves in the city during the early 20th century. Both companies are now a significant presence on the global stage.

Hamilton is also home to Canmet Materials, National Steel Car Ltd., and Nucor. Today, the community has established itself as an important contributor to Canada’s GTHA Automotive Technology Cluster.


2. Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate (FIRE)

Ontario is Canada’s financial giant, and the Hamilton community is no exception. Thirty percent of Hamilton businesses work in one of the three “FIRE” industries. The city’s proximity to the GTA helps but is not the only reason why Hamilton has a growing FIRE community.

Hamilton’s population is rapidly increasing. So, the growing demand for housing is boosting the real estate business. Downtown Hamilton is leading the way in Canada’s fintech and cryptocurrency sectors thanks to the innovative work atmosphere.

Hamilton workers are also highly educated. The city is home to both McMaster and Mohawk College giving citizens easy access to advanced education in business and economics. Many university graduates boost FIRE startups that push economic growth.


3. Food and Agriculture

Food is second among Hamilton industries in terms of size after steel. The city hosts 120 food companies and a thriving agriculture industry. Canadian food giants like Tim Hortons, Bunge, and Maple Leaf all call Hamilton home.

Hamilton’s location is a big reason why it’s a great place for the food industry. It’s urban enough to support rapid business growth while still providing easy access to land, clean water, and supply ports.

Hamilton’s food industry includes both food processing plants and farmers who supply raw ingredients. The region is home to 810 major farms that provide a wide range of food products.

Food producers in Hamilton provide Canada with meat, grain, oilseed, and sugar. In fact, Hamilton sugar costs Canadian grocers less than supplies from the U.S. or Mexico, making it an ideal source for bulk sugar purchases.

Biggest Industries in Hamilton

Credit: ExplorerAtHeart


4. Information Technology

Hamilton is part of Canada’s Innovation Corridor, which is known for being one of the biggest tech hotspots in North America. It was named the fastest-growing tech labour market in a mid-sized Canadian city.

Community involvement is one of the biggest drivers of Hamilton’s tech industry. A variety of co-working stations, networking events, and support from the MIP foster a growing IT industry.

This community support combined with McMaster’s competitive tech program has solidified Hamilton’s place as a technology-driven city. As a result, software development employment opportunities have increased by 135%.


5. Life Sciences

The MIP and Mohawk College are two of the top life science research facilities in Canada. Furthermore, Hamilton is also home to the second-largest hospital network in Ontario.

As such, life sciences employ over 30,000 people in the city, placing it among the biggest industries in Hamilton.

Internationally renowned researchers come to McMaster and Mohawk to study. Their efforts combined with Hamilton’s local talent are leading to medical breakthroughs. For example, McMaster researchers are working towards a cure for Type 1 Diabetes.

Hamilton’s leading research facilities are not going unrecognized. The Government of Canada invested $6 million into Hamilton’s growing healthcare and biotech sectors. This investment will support 100 different facilities and create dozens of new local jobs.

Canada is globally recognized for infectious disease research and Hamilton is part of that picture. The McMaster Immunology Research Centre includes 45,000 square feet of lab space dedicated to leading vaccine and immunotherapy research.


6. Transportation and Logistics

Hamilton is in the perfect location for goods transportation. The city is near one of the biggest industrial hubs in North America and has entry ports by air, sea, and rail. Leading cargo companies use the Hamilton area as a trade and storage epicenter.

The city is home to the busiest overnight express cargo airport in Canada and the most active seaport in the Great Lakes region. Clearly, leading commerce companies benefit from shipping their products through Hamilton.

Many of Hamilton’s ports connect Canada to the world. The Port of Hamilton is Ontario’s top overseas exporter of grain and soybeans. Altogether, the port transports approximately 650-700 vessels and millions of cargo tonnes per year.

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Featured Image Credit: Vivek Trivedi