You may know Brantford, Ont. only as the birthplace of Wayne Gretzky and the place where Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, but these days, this city of about 100,000 has a lot more going for it than just history.
Namely, its growth potential and bright future.
Indeed, one thing in Brantford's favour is a prime natural location in Southwestern Ontario, on the Grand River and along Hwy. 403, with proximity to major consumer and industrial markets throughout North America. That makes it a powerhouse locale for business, and with improving transportation infrastructure, also for living here and commuting elsewhere in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.
Developed largely as an industrial centre catering to the agricultural sector (remember Massey-Ferguson and other farm implement names?), Brantford once thrived as a manufacturing town. But by the 1980s, following massive consolidation in the heavy equipment industry, the economy was in steady decline. Closures and bankruptcies left thousands unemployed, and economic depression set in.
Fast-forward to mid 1990s when the Brantford to Ancaster section of the 403 was completed, opening up easier access to U.S. markets such as Buffalo and Detroit, and an economic revival was on.
More recently, companies such as Procter & Gamble and Ferrero Group (maker of the world-famous Nutella and Ferrero Roche chocolates) have set up shop in Brantford.
World Nutella day
Ferrero, in fact, is a key employer. After opening the $150-million plant in 2005, employing 600 workers, the operation has expanded twice, investing another $140 million and adding almost another 100 jobs. The city even hosts an annual World Nutella Day celebration every February (this year it was Feb. 5).
All of this development has led Brantford to boast one of the lowest unemployment rates in Ontario, well below the provincial and national averages.
With a diversifying economy and expanding employment opportunities, those moving to the city will also find homes that are far more affordable, compared to Toronto and other areas in the GTA.
"You can sell your home in Mississauga for $720,000 and buy the same home in Brantford for $420,000," former Brantford mayor Chris Friel said last year when Moneysense
magazine ranked the city the number one place in Canada to buy real estate. "You have all the amenities you need, and yet you're only five minutes away from beautiful little towns and a rural area."
Revitalization efforts of the downtown area have brought a mix of old and new, home to a growing post-secondary scene, with four institutions, including Wilfrid Laurier University and Conestoga College.
Economic diversity, housing affordability, lifestyle, proximity to amenities and transportation options… All of these developments have Brantford poised for growth. According to the City, population is forecast to reach 163,000 by 2041.
Forget history. Brantford is preparing itself for a bright future as a place to live, work and play.
Location, location, location
• Population 100,000, located in Southwestern Ontario in Brant County, on the Grand River and along Hwy. 403
• Distance from Toronto, 100 km; 135 km from Buffalo; 275 km from Detroit
• The Bell Memorial, commemorating Alexander Graham Bell
• Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre
• Elements Casino Brantford
Select upcoming housing developments
• Dufferin Crossing
by Schuit Homes
- Single-family homes
• Portside at Woodway Trails
by Royal Arc Developments
• Portside at Woodway Trails
by Huron Creek Developments