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 AGH, Shift 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."