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Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Sydenham Innovation Campus Opens This Week In Owen Sound

Owen Sound | by Claire McCormack  

The former Sydenham Community School is set to launch as a regional business & training centre.

Former Sydenham School Image from 

The Sydenham Innovation Campus in the former Sydenham Community School in Owen Sound launches this week.

Grey County Economic Development Manager Savanna Myers told councillors at Committee of the Whole Thursday ( Oct 10) so far, it involves a three-way public-private partnership with the Business Enterprise Centre, the Grey Bruce Business Generator and the Bluewater Angel Investors Group.

The Enterprise Centre and Business Generator are set to move in on the 15th with the Bruce Community Futures Development Corporation set to follow not long after.

In her report, Myers say the intent of the place is drive regional prosperity and competitive advantage by being a "pipeline that helps businesses establish a permanent base locally," through the use of temporary training and development support.

It aims to support local entrepreneurs, workers and organizations by offering education, business services and training with the use of labs and technology.  

A brand for the campus is expected to launch this week as well.

Ongoing renovations are planned for the building which Myers says has now been repainted and refreshed with the disposal of old carpeting.

Myers notes the county is looking at expanding parking at the training centre to accommodate the numerous people they anticipate will make use of it.  

Myers says while Grey County has a hand in the creation and launch of the Sydenham Innovation Centre, the goal is for it to be self sufficient within six years.

She says County staff are currently talking with potential tenants and taking expressions of interest.

The Sydenham School was sold last year to Grey County to be converted into a Regional Skills Training Centre. In recent years, three Owen Sound area schools were closed as a part of the Wynne Ontario Government's Accommodation Reviews which the same government later put a moratorium on after public outcry.

There are more renovations planned for the future including a switch to LED lights, power and HVAC upgrades and remodelled washrooms and an accessible washroom.

Plans for a childcare centre have been put on hold due to reduced funding from upper levels of government, but Myers says the option of 'child minding' is something the County will explore. She explains, it may be a simpler option that involves parents still being in building, similar to the play place in an Ikea, where instead of dropping kids off and leaving the building altogether, parents are nearby if needed.

The cost of the Sydenham Innovation Centre project is

Hatten says this year $255,000 has been tendered for capital projects like roof repair and painting.

The overall total with the purchase of the building and all the work that goes into it is estimated at around $775,000 in capital investments. The hope is to offset that with the rent of tenants to create a sustainable campus.

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