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Statement by Mayor Fred Eisenberger on the passing of Neil Everson

HAMILTON, ON - Neil Everson, the former director of the City’s economic development department, who was very much loved and respected, passed away last week at age 62 after a struggle with Alzheimer’s disease.

Neil worked at the City of Hamilton for 28 years and retired as Director of Economic Development in 2016.

Neil was a true leader in the area of economic development and his influence has been felt, not only in our community, but across Ontario and indeed around the world.

Neil was a leader who saw the need for Hamilton’s economy to diversify and to attract new businesses to the community in shovel-ready business parks.

Hamilton has since been recognized by the Conference Board of Canada for having the most diversified economy in Canada. Also, we have witnessed the annual value of building permits issued by the City topping $1 billion year over year for successive years.

Indeed, if you look at many of the positive things that are happening right now in Hamilton, from the construction at the airport employment lands, to our business parks, and at the waterfront, the origin of so many of those things can be traced directly to Neil’s leadership in economic development.

Neil’s many achievements include attracting large new businesses to Hamilton such as Canada Bread, the Maple Leaf Foods Meat Processing Facility and the Tim Hortons coffee roasting facility, to name but a few.

Neil was also focused on expanding the number of small business in Hamilton. He worked with the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade to establish a Small Business Enterprise Centre to Hamilton to support entrepreneurs.

Neil’s leadership resulted in the first Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) program in Ontario which is now replicated in dozens of other municipalities across the province.  

On the international scene, Neil led the city effort to achieve the internationally recognized Accredited Economic Development Organization designation in 2012, making Hamilton only the second organization in Canada and the first city government in Canada to be so accredited.

Neil also took part in many international projects, including his work on a Canadian International Development Agency sustainable development project in Dahlian, China. He was also seconded by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to conduct a review of the economic development operations of the City of Ostrava in the Czech Republic.

Neil’s death is a great loss, but his legacy lives on in the form of hundreds of business large and small and literally thousands of jobs which in turn sustains thousands of people and their families throughout our community.

Neil was a great public servant, a great leader, and a great friend.

Thank you, Neil.

I extend my sincerest condolences to Neil’s family. They can be comforted by the knowledge that he will forever have the respect, love and gratitude of the community he so ably served.