IBM is about to announce a partnership with Hamilton Health Sciences that will see the tech giant move a substantial number of jobs into the downtown, CBC Hamilton has learned.
Sources tell the CBC the company will occupy six floors of 100 King Street West, the office tower formerly called the Stelco Tower. The company will make the announcement on Tuesday.
The Stelco Tower, part of the Jackson Square complex, is one of Hamilton's tallest buildings, and currently has a large number of empty floors. It's a symbolic structure in the city. The 26-storey tower is the former head office of Stelco, a now-defunct steel producer and once one of Hamilton's major employers.
'That Stelco tower has sat empty for the better part of 20 years.' - Marvin Ryder, assistant professor, McMaster's DeGroote School of Business
Mayor Fred Eisenberger confirmed the impending announcement, calling it "a catalyst" that will likely lure even more companies.
IBM will be doing health informatics, which is a field that merges health information with other fields, such as computer science.
"Having a slice of that happening in Hamilton is nothing short of great," Eisenberger said. "It's spectacular."
Downtown Hamilton has experienced a revitalization in recent years, with a surge in building permit revenue and condo projects, as well as a planned $1 billion light rail transit line coming to King Street in 2024. But until now, the revitalization has skipped the tower.
A company such as IBM renting space in the tower would be pivotal, said Marvin Ryder, a McMaster University business expert.
"That Stelco tower has sat empty for the better part of 20 years," Ryder said.
'It's going to be great for not only health care, but our downtown, to have employees in the Stelco tower.' - Mayor Fred Eisenberger
"This is tremendous news and it makes a lot of sense on a couple of fronts."
Venturing into medical research
And bringing health informatics to Hamilton, he said, is "a real coup."
"This is just a wonderful development for us, and hopefully this can springboard into more wonderful developments, because health informatics will be a growing industry in the 21st century."
Kathy Drewitt, executive director of the Downtown Hamilton BIA, was excited at the prospects too.
"I'm really thrilled," she said. "I'll be contacting IBM to make sure they're aware of the amenities in the downtown."
The province played a role in IBM coming to Hamilton, Eisenberger said. He wouldn't elaborate, citing Tuesday's announcement.
But "it's going to be great for not only health care, but our downtown, to have employees in the Stelco tower."
IBM has Hamilton ties. Its Canadian president, Dino Trevisani, is a Hamilton native and graduate of McMaster University.