Giuseppe Ferrara: The man who brought the 2003 Road World Championships to Hamilton
Hamilton, Ont. -- When Giuseppe Ferrara started thinking about bringing the 2003 Road World Championships to Canada, he had this southern Ontario city in mind as a possible venue. But not only Hamilton. He was also thinking about Montreal and Vancouver. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /?>
The metropolitan areas of Montreal and Vancouver have populations of 3.4 million and 1.9 million respectively. Hamilton's population, after the recent amalgamation of several suburbs with it, is about 490,000.
Montreal, the "Paris of North America," is a natural destination for European visitors. It also boasts a mountain in its downtown (Mt. Royal) that would make an excellent feature in any world-class road-racing course. Vancouver, as well, with its magnificent mountainous backdrop, has much to recommend it as a WC venue.
But Ferrara chose Hamilton. "We did the analysis and it came out on top," he says. "The other cities have a lot going for them but Hamilton has greater potential."
Ferrara, a compact, dark-haired man of 45 (he looks 10 years younger), adds, "If you draw a 500-kilometre circle with the Hamilton as its center, you describe an area that has the most people of European origin of any area that size outside of Europe."
Hamilton may not have that large a population but it is at the western edge of what is called the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), which has a population of well over five million. Hamilton is the western-most municipality in this nexus that includes four separate regions containing over 20 municipalities.
Yet the distance from downtown Hamilton to downtown Toronto is only about 65 kilometers -- less than an hour's journey by the provincially run GO bus and train service.
Ferrara doesn't see Hamilton as the "other end" of Toronto. He instead sees this city as the center of a continuous tourist destination, with Toronto at one end and Niagara Falls at the other.
"We're right in the middle of two very important tourist destinations -- Canada's richest and most populous city at one end and one of our greatest tourist attractions at the other. And there's a great deal in between too."
Hamilton hasn't traditionally sold itself in this way. "We're always comparing ourselves to Toronto," Ferrara says. "We should be stressing our location -- being at the center of things."
He also thinks that Hamilton itself has been undersold.
"They don't know what they have here," he says. "An educated, well-paid workforce based on the steel and health care industries, a major university, great natural amenities -- the Niagara escarpment, the Royal Botanical Gardens, Cootes Paradise."
Who is Giuseppe Ferrara?
Ferrara is that mix of the dreamer and the realist that produces the visionary/entrepreneur.
He is a man who has always worked "at the back" -- that realm in industry where ideas are hatched and developed and brought to life in a machine, or a factory, or a simple gadget.
Or a bicycle.
To understand Giuseppe Ferrara you must