PREDC plans to develop innovation centre


By Barb McKay


The Penetangore Regional Economic Development Corporation (PREDC) has big plans for 2014, including one to develop a Penetangore Centre for Innovation.


An innovation centre is a project that was initiated primarily by PREDC executive director Gerry Taylor, who prior to coming to Kincardine, was the force behind the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre, which has become hugely successful.


Ron Coristine, a director on the PREDC board, said the corporation intends to pursue Taylor’s vision for the innovation centre, following his death last month.


“It’s still early and a business model hasn’t been determined yet,” he said. “The whole idea is to attract investment that will create jobs that will pay decent wages.”


Coristine said a business incubator will likely be a significant piece of the innovation centre. PREDC will hopes to help existing entrepreneurs grow their businesses and attract entrepreneurs from other areas to help them develop their ideas for a business or service.


There are also opportunities for job creation by tying skills to industries in and around Kincardine then developing services.


“The key thing is to look at the skills and expertise that exist in this community,” Coristine said. “We need to look at how we can harness them to create a new business or service.”


An example of a business that successfully linked its skills to an industry is AREVA, a company that opened an office in Kincardine to provide engineering and maintenance service to Bruce Power. In turn, the business has created dozens of new jobs in the area.


Another potential opportunity comes from the Kinetic Knights Robotics Team. Robotics is used by large industries, including Bruce Power, Coristine noted, and the Kinetic Knights is an innovative group of young people.


“We have the kids here and they are winning awards,” he said. “Let’s pull them in and see how they can help us and we can help them.”


During the Jan. 8 Kincardine council meeting, PREDC reviewed its successes in 2013 and laid out plans for this year. The corporation is asking for a municipal contribution of $142,500 plus HST towards its 2014 budget; up from $140,000 last year.


PREDC’s first order of business will be to recruit a new executive director. Deputy mayor Anne Eadie praised the group for forging ahead after losing Taylor.


“I’m confident you will be able to move ahead and further Gerry’s vision.”


Bringing natural gas to Kincardine remains a key focus of PREDC, said vice-president Robert Cottrill.

“Natural gas is the single most important thing for economic development. We really need to remain behind the eight ball.”


Also, PREDC will continue to implement Kincardine’s integrated community sustainability plan by pursuing funding opportunities and looking at initiatives that will benefit economic development. PREDC continues to work with businesses in China on export opportunities, said Cottrill. He said China is interested in Canadian food products because of high health and safety standards in Canada.