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St. Catharines: The Garden City develops into innovative urban hub with economic renewal and urban revitalization

Situated between the GTA and the Fort Erie U.S. border, St. Catharines is the largest city in the Niagara Region and the sixth largest urban area in Ontario. Nicknamed ‘The Garden City’ for its 1,000 acres of parks, gardens and trails, the city is also the commercial hub of the region.

Brian York, director of economic development and government relations says St. Catharines is entering an exciting period of economic renewal and urban revitalization.

“Recent developments have changed the face of the community for generations to come with public sector investments in infrastructure and arts and culture serving as a catalyst for private sector investments that will drive the prosperity of our great city.”

Public sector investments in arts and culture and infrastructure total more than $1 billion including, but not limited to, the Meridian Centre spectator facility which holds 5,300 fans for hockey games or 6,000 for other events such as concerts. The FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre is a 95,000 sq. ft. cultural complex that boasts four impressive theater facilities, including the largest theater which holds up to 800 seats for performances and live music.

York says “anchor tenants and events at two key facilities in the downtown core, which include the Niagara IceDogs, Niagara River Lions, Niagara Symphony Orchestra, and Foster Festival among others, means the core is finally becoming a year round hub of entertainment.”

Beyond just entertainment, the downtown also boasts more than 100,000 sq. ft. of new commercial/retail and office users. This has attracted the likes of Ting Mobile, Quartek Group, Cole Engineering, Craft Arts Market, Beechwood Doughnuts, Mindbomb Records, Fourgrounds Media, Freshii and just to name a few. The businesses, and the entertainment aspect attract and support the more than 5,000 people who live in the greater downtown area, part of the more than 12,000 people who shop, work and play in the core daily.

There has also been more than $200 million in residential developments in the city including Penn Terra Group’s 28-unit condo investment along with their two managed multi-storey residence buildings catering to the core’s growing student population. Plans for construction is underway for Seasons $145M Retirement Residence on a former hospital site as well as 77 Yates Street luxury condominiums from the Sally McGarr Group.

In addition, the city, offers an impressive health and wellness network and is home to one of Canada’s newest hospitals. St Catharines has also enjoyed one of the country’s most significant auto plant investments in years. Private and public sectors alike are contributing extensively to St. Catharines’ renaissance.

The city is a unified model for innovation, with strong networks between industry, academia and government. Post-secondary institutions, Brock University and Niagara College have a combined full-time enrollment of more than 25,000 in the region and the McMaster University DeGroote School of Medicine maintains a satellite campus in St. Catharines. These world class institutions are providing the next generation of talented innovators and entrepreneurs. Through Innovate Niagara, a local Regional Innovation Centre and the Generator at One, St. Catharines is helping entrepreneurs to grow and commercialize ideas and supporting an innovative and creative economy.

St. Catharines favours a team approach to economic development. “As a valued member of Team Niagara (area economic development officers), the City of St. Catharines remains committed to close collaboration with its partners to encourage business investment and economic growth across the region.”

The community, he says, has a long history of hard work and innovation. “There is no better time than now to invest in St. Catharines. The city’s economic development team can offer the information and resources needed to make any vision a success with timely, personalized support that is responsive to today’s fast-paced business environment.”

“While Niagara regularly welcomes the world, our established business network’s access the world too. With a superior location, competitive business environment and a solid inventory of investment opportunities, St. Catharines is ideally positioned for new investment. We look forward to working with you and welcoming you to our great city.”

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