This article was published in the Hamilton Spectator on January 27, 2017 by Natalie Paddon, and is re-posted here with permission.
What happens when businesses get involved in tackling poverty?
That is the theme of the third annual poverty reduction summit — Cities Reducing Poverty: When Business is Engaged — coming to Hamilton this April.
The three-day event — hosted by Vibrant Communities Canada, a Tamarack Institute initiative, and the City of Hamilton — is expected to bring together about 300 people including politicians, business owners and community leaders to talk about cross-country efforts to reduce poverty.
"The summit is really about bringing together local communities that are working on poverty," Mark Holmgren, director of Vibrant Communities Canada, told a Spectator editorial board meeting Thursday. "People come to our summits to take things home and then to work with them and to see what happens."
The Tamarack Institute works with nonprofit agencies, governments, businesses and communities to reduce poverty and spur positive change. Vibrant Communities is a network of 47 cities working on poverty-reduction strategies, Tamarack's website says.
Keynote speakers, workshops and tours — including to local stops like McQuesten Urban Farm and Neighbour to Neighbour's new Hamilton Community Food Centre — will be on the summit's agenda.
It's being held at the Hamilton Convention Centre April 4-6.
Some of the issues that will be examined include living wage, decent work, housing and homelessness.
The event is coming to Hamilton at the invitation of Mayor Fred Eisenberger's office, Holmgren said.
After last year's summit, Eisenberger pitched an idea, which councillors backed, to spend $50 million on social housing and poverty reduction over the next decade.
At the federal level, the government has committed to developing a national poverty reduction strategy.
As part of that, Holmgren hopes to see a strong federal presence at the summit.
Tom Cooper is director of the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction, which is one of Vibrant Communities Canada's 55 members.
The summit is a way to share what's being done locally to tackle poverty at the national level, Cooper said. "There's a real opportunity to showcase to the country what's happening around some really great projects."
For more information about the summit, visit events.tamarackcommunity.ca/crp.