Building Upon Milton’s Hidden Economy

The Milton Education Village (MEV) Innovation Centre is just completing its first fiscal year. With a soft opening in April, we became fully functional in September with the completion of Phase 2 of our construction. Over the fall we have seen interest in the facility grow with companies using our coworking space and leasing small flexible offices geared toward technology intensive firms.

MEV collage 3x

Our board rooms and meeting spaces are also proving to be quite popular and Wilfrid Laurier University has begun to hold lectures in its class room space.

Much of our early efforts have focused on communicating what the MEV Innovation Centre has to offer to the technology and small business community. We have not spent as much time talking about WHY we are doing this.

Simply put, Milton can’t rely on the type of economic growth we’ve seen during the last decade continuing. Given its location in the GTA, Milton has been very successful in attracting logistics operations and the large scale, and land consuming, facilities that they use. We are not complaining. This tax and assessment growth has allowed us to achieve a level of fiscal balance and the ability to provide the services needed to take care of the Town’s rapidly growing population.

Milton WarehouseHowever, the supply of land is not endless and we expect the majority of large sites to be used up over the next ten years. That’s why we are asking ourselves, “what next?”. Better to be thinking about this now than scrambling for an answer in 2024.

This takes us to what we are calling our hidden economy. It has two parts. First, Milton’s population is on average, the youngest in the GTA with an average age of 34 years. It is also highly educated and over 40 percent of the work force is employed in professional and technical occupations. This is a talent pool teaming with entrepreneurship. We estimate that there are already over 3,000 “home based” businesses in town.

Equally important, is the emergence of the Professional/Scientific/Technical sector as a driver of local economic growth. This sector created the most new companies, about 400, over the last five years.

Business Growth In Milton by Sector: 2009-2013A significant proportion of the companies in the sector are in the computer/systems design and engineering industries. Currently, there are about 1,200 small companies employing about 2,200 people.

We believe that building a more diverse economy will be driven to a large extent by entrepreneurship and the continuing growth of value-added service companies and jobs. The MEV Innovation Centre’s facilities, existing and future entrepreneurship programming is dedicated to achieving this objective.

About the Member Blogger

KyleBKyle Benham is the Coordinator at the MEV Innovation Centre in Milton, Ontario. Reach Kyle at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  Learn more about MEV at

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As tech companies, and especially startups, we seem to be constantly searching for places to ‘hang our hats’.  We’re all more than comfortable working ‘virtually’, but we also know that there’s nothing like a face-to-face meeting with clients or investors when the time comes. 

At NEXED we’ve been lucky to be able to use a beautiful café in Bronte – Taste of Colombia – to host many events, demos and meetings. The café recently expanded and now offers an events room adjacent to it. It’s 850sq.ft with space for up to 60 people, wifi throughout, access to a digital projector and sound system, tables and chairs that can be arranged as you need them and free parking.  And of course, having a café right beside you has benefits that don’t need to be spelled out. 

Currently, Taste of Colombia is offering the space at a reduced rate for SH members. To book an event please contact Yurry Wu at 289.837.2031. And stay tuned for updates about a new SH meetup group on Fridays at the café - TGIF Tech. The first is scheduled for November 28th- 3-5pm. More details coming soon!

Sometimes a more formal and intimate atmosphere is required. Carolyn Moshtagh of AXXYR, also located in Bronte, is offering her boardroom to SH members who are looking for a quiet place for smaller meetings. Again, with access to whatever you may need to meet, demo and discuss. Contact Carolyn at 416.500.9195 to set up a time. 

So if you need to get out and about, these are two great locations in Bronte for SH members to call home- at least for a couple hours!

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What is Open Data?

Wikipedia defines Open Data as “The rationale behind open government data can be considered as twofold.

  • September2014 - OpenData - r-halfFirst, advocates contend that making government data available to the public in open formats increases government transparency and accountability.
  • Second, open data should enable third parties to leverage the potential of government data through the development of applications and services that address public and private demands.”

One example, in lay terms, imagine all the political donations being readily available to everyone in an Excel formatted file. You didn’t need to submit a request, or drive to town hall, but rather, required access to an unrestricted web page. If you’re proficient with Excel, what information could you derive from that data?

A parallel can be drawn against Open Source software, and how that model has revolutionized the computing ecosystem. The most popular open source products run ecommerce sites of some of the world's largest online retailers. In all probability, your company is also using Open Source products.

Why is Open Data useful?

To continue quoting Wikipedia, “The best open government applications seek to empower citizens, to help small businesses, or to create value in some other positive, constructive way.”

The massive amounts of data our government have collected is ours. The vast majority of it however is unavailable to us. Understandable for data containing personal or security information, but no longer acceptable for the rest.

Where can I Find the Open Data?

Here are some examples of Canadian sources of Open Data:

Who is using Open data?

Here are five examples of effective uses of public open data which provides citizen enablement (with screen captures of each following - click on image to enlarge or goto source):

  1. The mobile transit app (free) tells shows you the nearest bus stop, scheduled ETA, and map of route. Works with Burlington and Oakville transit.
  2. A mobile app (free) which accurately tells you when the next train or bus will arrive (Toronto)
  3.  Chicago’s farmers market locations
  4. During a May 2014 Edmonton Open Data Hackathon, a citizen produced this City of Edmonton budget visualization (infographic). Their Mayor was later quoted “I’ve dealt with seven budgets … (this visualization was) very very helpful for me to understand our budgets through the eyes of a citizen
  5. Geo visualization of who donated to the 2010 Rob Ford campaign

Rocketman appChicago farmers market locations City of Edmonton Budget Visualization .Oakville Kerr Bus line example 140w

Ford 2010 Campaign donations City of Toronto.

Click on images to enlarge or goto source.

Get Started

Imagine leading or being witness to the genesis of some bold new commercial or open source app that brings life changing possibilities?

Eventbrite - Open Data. Open Gov. Shape The Future.

On September 9, 2014, join a intensive highly engaged round-table workshop with your peers. You’re in control. You can share and brainstorm on your challenges, your needs, and your ideas around citizen centric services and apps that require open data. Learn more here, or Register here.  

About the Blogger

Stomphorst Avatar 2014Rick Stomphorst is the President of SearchVelocity, providing recruitment services to technology companies to identify and acquire high-value technology staff. Rick is a technology leader with over 25 years experience with SaaS & on-premise software, large IT professional consulting firms and five software start-ups. He is a cofounder of Silicon Halton. [@StompR]

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Entrepreneurial Advice

start - blog imageSo, you are starting a business? This is a difficult decision, and congratulations on taking the leap. You have an idea you’ve been researching for years. Picture this: time to launch, you sit down at your desk at home, in a coffee shop, or even better a coworking space :). But now… What do you do, day one? It is generally understood time is of the essence when launching any new venture. So then why, on day one, week one, or month one, are you focused on building a flashy website, setting up an LLC through a lawyer, or even designing a logo?

Most people will say they are setting the groundwork or even getting everything laid out to start operating business. While certain activities are necessary to facilitate business, most activities are not crucial to testing the viability of the business.

Think about any business idea you had before or are pursuing now. What is the gamble that must work for you to be successful? What is the hardest thing you need to achieve to make this new venture successful? Maybe it is a good idea to focus on that. (Note: If you do not know what this variable/gamble is, please re-examine your business plan.) Use whatever rule you want - 80/20 seems to make sense. Spend 80% of your day ensuring your business is viable: get that first client, build that list of subscribers, anything that is crucial/hard/important for the business. 20% can be used for the other areas.

Too many times you see smart, driven people drowning in work being side tracked with these “nice to haves” that are not pinnacle to the company’s success.

I invite you to examine your daily activities and label an activity as vital and nice to have. This sometimes is sobering, but well worth it.

Think of a car, many people would agree A/C, decent stereo, leather seats are all great features. But, all of these don’t matter if the pistons aren’t firing. Build that engine, make sure those four wheels are rolling, and then add the nice to haves. GM gets a bailout when they mess up, entrepreneurs aren’t always so lucky.

Alex MazurewiczAlex Mazurewicz is the Community Director of the Burlington HiVE. Burlington’s only co working office space. For more information visit or for a tour or questions please email him: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  Follow the HiVE @BurlingtonHive

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