Market Updates
SOTA Program – Hamilton

Changing the trajectory of office space with the City of Hamilton

Hamilton has many advantages to non-local and new companies looking to launch or grow their business. Lower rental rates than the GTA average, a growing local workforce of office professionals looking for a much-desired shorter commute, and an inventory of brick-and-beam commercial space are just a few reasons for businesses to locate to Hamilton.  However, starting up in a new city can come with its own set of financial challenges. 

The city launched the Start-up Office Tenant Attraction Program (SOTA) as an incentive to attract new business to Hamilton, addressing the rising office vacancy rates. With professionals working from home and leaving offices empty, the City of Hamilton believed that providing financial assistance with leasehold improvements could help change the trajectory of vacancy rates and continue growth and diversification of Hamilton’s business landscape. 

Judy Lam, Manager of Commercial Districts and Small Business for the City of Hamilton, said that while such incentives had already been in place in the past, the rise in office vacancies gave the City more reason to shift focus to start-ups.

“When we passed this new Community Improvement Plan towards the end of 2021 when we were in the midst of COVID, we did think about how we encourage interest in office space by smaller tenants, so start-ups, so that’s where we changed the program to a start-up and office tenant attraction program,” said Ms. Lam.

According to the program description, successful SOTA applicants will receive a low interest or forgivable loan as outlined in the Program Eligibility and Criteria, which includes up to $25.00 per square foot (term length depending), and up to $450,000 in a lump sum. Additional details are available here

For Ms. Lam, the program is just one part of the Economic Development plan for attracting businesses to Hamilton, particularly in the downtown core.

“Part of our strategy is to make sure it’s a great place to come when you go to the office,” she said. “What we found before the pandemic is the office spaces that were easy to rent out for landlords were the brick and beam, and I know Toronto had run out of that type of space. The advantage of Hamilton is we have all of it. If you want brick-and-beam we have that choice, but if you want more traditional office towers, we also have that.”

The diversity of office space, whether in older spaces or one of Hamilton’s many office towers, provides an abundance of inventory for new tenants to achieve their goals of success, and to build a space where employees and business owners can feel comfortable every day. The SOTA program aims to support that growth. As Ms. Lam said, it’s a win-win outcome.

For a detailed description of SOTA, or to apply, please click here.


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