There was an inescapable air of positivity surrounding the Hamilton HiveX conference Saturday afternoon at the downtown Sheraton.

"This time last year, the top search items on Google and Youtube for Hamilton were about graffiti and gang violence," said Matthew Green, one of the panelists at the second-annual conference.

"Now, it's usually McMaster Gangnam Style videos or all the great work being done by people in this city."

Green isn't trying to suggest that Hamilton Hive has directly changed how the city is perceived. But the Freestyle Fitness owner is saying the group is helping to foster a positive conversation among the people who are helping to shape this city.

'I think our generation is trying to have a conversation on prosperity' —Matthew Green, Freestyle Fitness owner

The Hive's mission is to provide resources for young professionals who are looking to advance their careers in Hamilton. It connects groups like the Innovation Factory and Cobalt Connects with small businesses and people looking for help with startups.

"What we do today is supposed to be the start of what happens tomorrow," said Ryan Moran, Hamilton Hive chair. "There is something specific you can do here. The size of Hamilton lends itself to connection and change."

Moran said that message is one he hopes permeates social circles at McMaster and Mohawk, so that young people can think about setting up shop in Hamilton rather than moving elsewhere when they finish school.

Panel discussions at the conference included discussions on how young professionals are influencing media, small business, entrepreneurship, downtown renewal, innovation, and Hamilton's image.

Red Hill Coffee owner Jason Hofing was a moderator at the small business workshop. He told CBC Hamilton that the climate surrounding young businesspeople in the city is much different than it has been traditionally.

"We're looking for a collaborative approach," he said, contrasting his generation with the "Darwinist survival of the fittest approach," of traditional enterprise.

"People here just seem more interested in working together to foster an image for a positive community."

Okay, so now what?

While positivity can be a great jumping off point, it doesn't always lend itself to practicality.


Stephanie Trendocher and Matthew Green, who moderated the workshop on Hamilton's image. (Adam Carter/CBC)

Case in point: at least year's inaugural conference, participants brainstormed ideas for a viral video — but it never materialized.

"You can plan and brainstorm all you like — but then you walk away with what?" asked Stephanie Trendocher of Beaux Mondes, who moderated the Hamilton's Image workshop with Green.

"You need to implement that action."

So this year, they did. Trendocher and Green asked members of their workshop to finish this sentence on video: "My Hamilton is _______."

They started in the morning. But the time the conference had ended, they had shot, edited, and had this video online already:

"We couldn't have done that five years ago," Green said. "Now we could shoot it at our tables with cell phones if we had to."

The Hive is also planning a kind of "Hamilton specific LinkedIn service" that would connect professionals and business owners in the city. Though it's still in a development stage, Moran is hoping it can foster an even wider network in Hamilton to share ideas.

As it stands, the Hive has a 500-person email list and 12 substantial partner groups, like the AGHShift and GenNext. Even though the conference is in its relative infancy, there have been some tangible results after the first year.

Moran also says city council is "definitely interested" in the ideas the Hive is putting together. He spoke at council on Wednesday, and plans to head back in the new year.


The crowd at the Hamilton Sheraton Saturday. The event was sponsored by First Ontario Credit Union. (Adam Carter/CBC)

He counted Brian McHattie, Jason Farr, Judi Partridge and Tom Jackson as counselors who have all been "incredibly receptive" to hearing and implementing ideas the Hive is putting together — but reportedly, Ward 5 councilor Chad Collins was the only councilor to actually visit the conference.

Moran also noted he does sometimes feel a generation gap when dealing with council — something Green says speaks to a difference in the way a younger generation does business.

"It comes down to things being profit-driven versus prosperity driven," he said. "And I think our generation is trying to have a conversation on prosperity."

"Think about something as simple as 'what do you do?' Your work used to define you. Industries used to define people," he said.

"But now 'who you are' is a lot more interesting."

For more on the Hamilton Hive, visit

Hamilton HiveX 2012

A collection of tweets and ideas from the young entrepreneurs conference.

Storified by Adam Carter · Sat, Oct 20 2012 12:44:40

On The Cusp referenced today at #HiveX by @adriandz - referencing Greenfield development - "#HamOnt is sucking and blowing at the same time"Graham McNally
@beauxmondes_ my Hamilton is big city, small town feel. It is community driven and supports small biz and green spaces #hivexMargaret Lintott
My Hamilton is a beautiful city teetering on the brink of greatness, mercifully Rob Ford-free. #HamOnt rules, #HiveX cc @beauxmondes_aK beauty & baking
My Hamilton is all about rediscovery! #HamOnt #HiveXKat
#hivex My Hamilton is.. Ballinger
#HamOnt #HiveX My Hamilton needs to stop navel gazing.Todd Crocker
My #HamOnt is where I Live, Love, Work, and Play #HiveX @zoeSocial @MarketMar @FoodandWineGirl @MokshaHamOntAsh @MokshaYogaAmyCameron Dyck
Our #Hamilton is opportunity! #HamOnt #HiveXDante Media Group
"@TVkatFM: My Hamilton is all about rediscovery! #HamOnt #HiveX" - cannot wait to hear all about your rediscovery!!kelly dunham
My Hamilton is Canada's best kept secret. Amazing disoveries exist behind the "iron curtain" along the QEW. #hivex #HamOntKeanin Loomis
“@beauxmondes_: Alright #hamont 'My Hamilton is community' #HiveXLeo Santos
Having a great time here at #Hivex reppin' @CreateMediaTV & @bestofhamiltonMichael Muller
My Hamilton is a city of opportunity #HIVEX. I am a transplant from BC via TX and there is so much to take advantage of here!Levi Campbell
"My Hamilton is redefining quality of life" #HiveX @martinus_g @CoreUrbanerin laura o'neil
My Hamilton is where anything is possible. #HiveX #lovethiscityJulia
#hivex - more on #startbiz lunch and learns - new biz present ideas in 5 mins and can get feedback & exposureKayla Jonas Galvin
My Hamilton is small when I need it to be small and big when I need it to be big. #HiveXVintage Marketplace
My Hamilton is small when I need it to be small and big when I need it to be big. #HiveXVintage Marketplace
My #HamOnt is full of revival thanks to amazing entrepreneurs and small businesses #HiveXHamilton Hobby
#HiveX My Hamilton Is Innovative-Entrepreneurial-Professional! @itbeginswithIFMatt Wilusz
My Hamilton is young, emerging entrepreneurs reviving the city bit by bit #HiveX #HamOntMelissa Stenhouse
My Hamilton is... A place where your idea turns into reality! #HiveX #HamOntNadia Pett
@beauxmondes_ My #HamOnt is a vast creative space. #HiveXSarah James
My Hamilton is our new home - it is so diverse, it is hard to get your head around it, So many diff things here! #HiveXSusan Brooks
#HIVEX my Hamilton is proud of its many cultures and sees them as essential to our successJeremy Freiburger
#HIVEX my Hamilton has effective leadership and makes principled decisions that are reflective of our residents valuesJeremy Freiburger
My Hamilton and its leaders are selfless, supportive, encouraging, and honest #hivexRyan Patrick Moran
At the #hivex conference today in #hamont ! Our ideas are so good they should be illegal! Baynes
That's easy @beauxmondes_ My Hamilton is #Hamazing ! Is still my favourite moment from #Tweetstock with @kitestring cc #HiveX #HamOntSam Emmerson
My #HamOnt are all the talented entrepreneurs and musicians that make our city the best place to be #HiveXCiara McCann
RB- great ideas at #HiveX. #startbiz received the most votes. Great ideas for #smallbusiness in #hamontHamilton EcDev
#HiveX and #HamOnt, can we just say how awesome you are! Thanks for making the Hamilton Image workshop so lively and full of great ideas.Beaux Mondes
Great spread at #HiveX Dyck
Hitting up the dessert table at #HiveX. Hard. Mondes
My Hamilton is safe. #HamOnt #HiveXHPSActionTeam4
Packed house at #hamont #HiveX to hear Ty Shattuck from PV Labs - great Hamilton tech success! Hamilton
#HamOnt #hivex is trending in the top 3 in Canada!!!Hamilton EcDev
My Hamilton is full of opportunity. #hamont #HiveXAgata Mancini
Everyone wants a better Hamilton....what are you doing to help? #hivexKevin Huynh
#hivex - someone sit at Ryan Moran's table. He looks lonely. #everyoneiswelcome at Hive.Green Smoothie Bar
My Hamilton is innovation in steel @ArcelorMittal_D #hivex #HamOntDevon Donaldson
Enjoying Ty Shattuck's thoughts on innovation and exploiting risk and moving where you can't see #HiveXCraig Burley
Couldn't agree more that the courage to try is most important characteristic of an entrepreneur. That first step could be a doozy! #hivexMichael Barton
Entrepreneurs: courageous visionaries with the perseverance, passion and luck to follow their ideas off the map into the unknown #HiveXKat
#hivex When innovating, maintain a focus on your objectives but keep your eyes open for opportunity.Emily Baynes
"Play your position, but maintain a healthy disdain for the laws" - @tyshattuck #piratesailors #HiveX #hamontParker Martin
@GurnihalSandhu I want a pirate canoe #hivexDevon Donaldson
Before making modifications to your #pirateship, set your sights on what seas you want to travel. #preach #HiveXGenNext
"Set your sites globally and become a global player" My homebase is #hamont #hivexPhi R. Schmidt
The world needs leaders who don't need maps! #hivex #hamont keynote tweetablePhi R. Schmidt
Thank you for that inspiring keynote address, @TyShattuck! I've always wanted to be a pirate. #HiveX #HamOntMichael Pett
@projectshaman, the world need leaders who don't need maps... But create their own maps for others to follow. #hivex #wordsofwisdomMohamed El Mahallawy
My Hamilton is respectful of the diversified small businesses! #hivex #HamOnt...It is the unique talents we have~ "Our Stregnth is people"!Danya
Nice to see @MelissaHeight @hamiltonchamber @thecoffeetrade @HamiltonEcDev @MarketMar @zoesocial at #HiveX today! #HamOntHPSActionTeam4
Downtown renewal; amusement park on top Jackson square @MelissaHeight #hamont #HiveXCameron Dyck
#HIVEX lots of networking before Ine #innovation workshop. Getting started soon! Hwang
#hivex - #builtheritage brought up in #downtown session - make it easier (eg. Bldg codes) to adaptively reuse buildings downtownKayla Jonas Galvin
Complete streets, adaptive reuse, and the relationship between walkability & economic growth are popular topics of downtown renewal #hivexEmily Baynes
Walkable city means there is a place for vulnerable citizens to venture downtown #HAMONT #HiveX #walkablecitySerious Monkey
Chamber Board members Joe Accardi & Rami Reda facilitating discussion now at #HiveX about downtown #HamOnt Chamber
Fastest growing areas& festivals r also one way to two way conversions - Locke St & James st. N -> also pedestrian festivals #hamont #hivexKayla Jonas Galvin
#HiveX session on #HamOnt Downtown Renewal is focused on walkable streets - clear that this is seen as a predominant renewal catalystMark Stewart
#hamont you can decrease graffiti by simply commissioning more murals. Transform graffiti into art and transform Hamilton. #HiveXParker Martin
#hamont #hivex - young professionals need to be present - go to city meetings, cycle on streets etc.Kayla Jonas Galvin
Young #HamOnt professionals talk building our downtown at #HiveX while across the street the board of ed is demo'd and they flee to mtnMartinus Geleynse
@beauxmondes_ My Hamilton is.... Finally getting the respect we deserve! #HiveX #HamontMovember Hamilton
#HiveX where are our downtown ward councillors!? In a panel about Downtown development! @michaelpett asks - #hamontParker Martin
@collins_ward5 asks #HiveX #HamOnt "How do we convince new families to move into the core? What are the barriers that prevent investments?"Parker Martin
@collins_ward5 asks #HiveX #HamOnt "How do we convince new families to move into the core? What are the barriers that prevent investments?"Parker Martin
Kind of sickening/sad to be at #HiveX downtown on the day the Education Centre is destroyed. #HamOntCraig Burley
Engaged #HamOnt citizens have a unified vision for downtown renewal. Our city councillors do not. How do we fix this divide? #HiveX #YHMpoliMichael Pett
Thanks to Councillor Collins for joining the downtown renewal discussion at #hivex Would have been great to see more councillors here!Emily Baynes
If you only ever look where you are at you'll never get to tomorrow @martinus_g #hamont #HiveXCameron Dyck
Hey #HiveX members: check out the new #VisitHamilton App for #iphone #HamOnt @TourismHamiltonKat
Andrew @weeverapps & @tammyhwang @itbeginswithIF have designed a superb workshop on innovation in #hamont - lots of chatter in here! #HiveXerin laura o'neil
My summary of #hivex is that #HamOnt should become a pirate utopia! Arrrrrrrt is the new steel!Scenic Paradise
#hivex - #hamont we need to play to our strength - space to start a business at reasonable costKayla Jonas Galvin
Get the message out. Downtown Hamilton is the place to work, live and play #HamOnt #HiveX.Allyson Wenzowski
@iFchiefadvocate is talking about craft beer as a new market at #HiveX - check out the winking judge in #hamont for craft beer!Software Hamilton
A downtown is to a city like a heart is to a body, a nucleas to a cell, or a core to an apple. It's where we gather and connect #HiveXMartinus Geleynse
Jobs attraction issue at #downtown session - idea from #smallbussiness session for #hivex to have local job board seems like good solutionKayla Jonas Galvin
Wise words from @itbeginswithIF: we must be innovative & reap benefits from an ascendant #HamOnt, not leave it to outsider investors #HiveXerin laura o'neil
#HiveX - "Why not have stories from @CBCHamilton or @TheSpec about how young families shop, live & work in #hamont" - to grow the coreParker Martin