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Cobourg has announced it will create a business incubator to help entrepreneurs start up in the area.  The Federal Government on Wednesday announced a grant of $400,000 towards this and the Town is expecting the Province to also provide a grant – to be announced by the end of July.  The project will occupy part of the ground floor of building #13 at 739 D’Arcy Street in Northam Industrial Park.  CFDC and other tenants will occupy the rest of the ground floor while the second floor will be used by the Police Services operation.  The new facility will be called Venture 13 and its total cost to the Town will be $1,620,000.  A report by Stephen Peacock to the Committee of the Whole meeting on May 29 gives full details including a business case. This post provides a summary.

Wendy CurtisWendy CurtisThe idea was presented to Council on March 13, 2017 by Wendy Curtis of Community Futures Development Corporation (CFDC) at a joint closed meeting of Council and the Police Services Board.  Wendy described it as an opportunity for the Town to work with CFDC and other partners for the creation of an Economic Development Tech Innovation Center.  (For those who don’t know, the CFDC is a Federally funded organization that helps entrepreneurs both with advice and funding).

Cobourg Council's Strategic Plan

Objective 3 "Promote Diverse Economic Development Opportunities" states to "Develop and Implement a business incubator/entrepreneurship programs" and also to "Develop and implement a marketing and promotion program that is integrated with other strategic partners".  (Strategic Plan on Town’s web site here).  Venture 13 will meet these objectives.

The project will meet a long list of Economic Development goals.

Overview

The idea to create a centre that will provide help to budding entrepreneurs – the help will be with dollars, facilities, advice and an environment where there are other entrepreneurs to share ideas with.  It will be aimed at attracting and setting up high-tech industries in Cobourg and Northumberland. The specific goal is 73 jobs and 16 new business start-ups in two years.  The business incubator will share a facility with other groups that are complementary although the Police Services on the second floor are a totally separate operation.

Lead Partners

CFDC will occupy a suite of offices on the main floor and will oversee attraction and support of clients utilizing the maker space and entrepreneurship component of the building.

Cobourg Police Services will be a major contributor to the capital campaign and will occupy the entire second floor of the building with their Business Services Unit which needs space since they are expanding.

Building

Building #13 in Northam Industrial park is Town owned and currently vacant.  The tenants in the building will pay rent of $90,000 per year and this will cover taxes, utilities and health and safety equipment testing and maintenance costs.  Currently it costs $70,000 to maintain the closed building.

Features

The new centre will include:

  • Economic development professionals office space
  • Start-up/SME incubation areas
  • Acceleration areas and services including non-dilutive start-up capital (debt/equity)
  • A 77 seat lecture hall complete with a higher learning centre
  • Seminar rooms equipped with state-of-the-art technologies facilitating global connectivity
  • Partner "hot offices"
  • Public and private meeting rooms
  • Maker spaces for design, prototype and creation

The Business plan noted that construction of a state-of-the-art 77 seat lecture theatre will draw a variety of post-secondary institutions and educational opportunities currently not available in Cobourg. The lecture theatre and break-out training rooms will also be utilized by Northumberland Manufacturers' Association to carry out training sessions for industries. The addition of a maker space area will fill a gap in the community. The incubator/accelerator area will be utilized by entrepreneurs who are seeking low cost space and support services not currently available in one location.

Permanent Tenants

  • Town of Cobourg Economic Development.  They will move from their current location in Dressler House. The “ongoing disposition [of Dressler House] will be determined through results of Cultural Master Plan” which is planned for 2018.
  • Northumberland Community Futures Development Corporation
  • Northumberland Manufacturers' Association
  • Cobourg Police Business Unit
  • Northumberland County

There will also be a large number and variety of temporary tenants.

Operational Management

The day to day operational management will be carried out by a Venture 13 centre Coordinator who will ensure the smooth operation of the facility.

Funding

  • $400,000 from Eastern Ontario Development Program’s Collaborative Economic Development Projects Stream - managed by CFDC.  To be used for construction costs
  • $250,000 funded from Holdco reserves for the purposes of outfitting of the building;
  • $250,000 - hopefully funded from the Province’s Rural Economic Development (RED) fund. 
  • $650,000 – from Police Capital Reserve
  • $70,000  - Donation from Lakefront Utilities, other partners and private donations

Project Plan

Stephen Peacock says:

Cobourg Police Services have retained PICCINI Architects to continue development of plans for their portion of the building. With this in mind staff are seeking Council permission to sole source work to the point of construction contract award to PICCINI Architects. The quoted price for the engineering, architectural work, including inspection, is estimated 10% of the work price. This price is in keeping with industry standards.

Stage 1- presentation of Business Case and direction to staff to proceed with preparation of Tender drawings and documents. (May 29, 2017)
Stage 2- final decision on provincial funding tendering and approval of contract by Council (Sept 2017)
Stage 3- Construction and move in (Dec 2017)

Download CAO Stephen Peacock’s Memo and full Business case with building floor plans.

Complementary CFDC Northumberland initiatives

On May 17, CFDC and M.P. Kim Rudd also announced additional funding for Entrepreneurs (Report by Northumberland Today):

  • The creation of the NVenture Fund (an “early stage equity fund”) to support funding of next-generation, innovative and knowledge-based startups. ($500,000)
  • The award of funds to startup companies through the NIM program ($691,000) and the annual N100 Startup competition ($100.000)

The County also announced a new name for the Business Advisory Centre which is now a County responsibility  It is now called Business & Entrepreneurship Centre Northumberland  and will “expand service offerings to business start-ups and entrepreneurs across Northumberland.”

Looks like there’s a big push to get more businesses in the Town and the County.  A good idea. More employment, more tax revenue.

Footnote

There was an initiative in Port Hope called the IdeaHub that was similar to parts of Venture 13 although it focused on Green instead of High-Tech -  but it died.  The big difference is that although the focus here is on the business incubator, the building is 75% occupied by existing groups who need more space or need to be grouped together. If the incubator part has a problem, very little would be lost.

 

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