Cam Whitehead of the Kootenay Association for Science and Technology explained the Nelson Innovation Centre to city council on Monday. Also in the photo: Tom Thomson and Andrea Wilkey of the Nelson and Area Economic Development Partnership. Photo: City of Nelson webcast screenshot

Nelson tech innovation centre asks city for $50k

New facility will be located in the Chamber of Commerce building in the restored CP Rail station

Renovations are underway in the Chamber of Commerce building in the restored CP Rail station to house the new Nelson Innovation Centre.

“It’s a great marriage of heritage and high tech,” said Cam Whitehead, the executive director of the Kootenay Association for Science and Technology (KAST), as he described the project to city council Monday.

He was there to ask council for a $50,000 grant for the project.

The centre will be a hub for Nelson’s tech sector, which Whitehead says already consists of hundreds of people.

“It will be a physical presence,” Whitehead said. “Nelson’s tech sector is often hidden in second floors and back alleys.”

He said the tech centre, next to the city’s visitor centre, will connect businesses to funding and workers. It will link workers with employment supports, training, and jobs.

“It is about offering a space to deliver business development supports and skills-training programs,” Whitehead told council. “To take ideas to the start-up phase, to incorporation, to growth, to exports. It is about commercializing ideas.

Whitehead told council the B.C. tech sector employs more people than mining, forestry and oil/gas combined.

“Also it will be a community-building facility, so it will have events and activities. The purpose is to be a catalyst, a conduit, to connect people and businesses to support they need.”

The innovation centre is a project of the Nelson and Area Economic Development Partnership, with KAST as project manager and Community Futures Central Kootenay as fundraiser.

KAST is a non-profit society whose main activity in the past few years has been the development of MIDAS, an applied research, commercialization and digital fabrication training facility in Trail that focuses on manufacturing technologies including 3D printing.

Related: Tech company to open office in Nelson

The budget for the first year of Phase 1 of the Nelson Innovation Centre is $171,000, of which $120,000 has been raised.

The $50,000 requested of council would be used to fund staffing and administration.

Phase 2, in which the centre would expand into a larger adjacent space at the station, will be developed as funding is acquired, Whitehead said.

He told council the project aims to provide high-paying jobs for Nelson’s youth.

“The great thing about tech jobs is they pay 40 per cent more than an average industry wage,” he said. “Entry level can be around $50,000 or $60,000.

“There are a lot of remote workers in Nelson already that are looking to connect, collaborate, find peers. It is a great pitch to Silicon Valley companies, to have a developer working here. They can pay them in Canadian — that is an immediate discount — and they can work and live here. If you can make $100,000 or $150,000 here, that is the vision.”

Mayor John Dooley admitted he is a bit behind the times when it comes to the tech sector, but he thinks much of the public is even more in the dark and he said he hopes KAST can properly explain this to people.

“When I was campaigning I went to an office where a tech person was working on stream mitigation,” said Dooley. “Tech is involved in so many different things. I wonder if that ever gets explained to people. It is an amazing area of opportunity in so many sectors.”

Council made no decision about the funding request, which will be incorporated into its current ongoing discussions about the 2019 city budget.



bill.metcalfe@nelsonstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

B.C. Interior free from measles

Vancouver measles outbreak hasn’t spread to the B.C. Interior

Trail RCMP seeking info on van near Fruitvale school

Vehicle in question offered young girl a ride to school

Selkirk College opens up debate on sports team name, logo

Asking for public comment on ‘Saints’ name until March 1

Parity prevails at BC Senior Curling championship

Teams go toe-to-toe in second Draw at the BC Senior Curling Championship

Man injured in police shooting near Nelson has died

The death follows an incident in Bonnington on Feb. 13

Students give two thumbs up to no more B.C. student loan interest

Eliminating the loan interest charges could save the average graduate $2,300 over 10 years

Samsung folding phone is different – but also almost $2,000

But most analysts see a limited market for foldable-screen phones

Alcohol policies fizzle for Canadian governments as harms overflow: reports

About 80 per cent of Canadians drink, and most enjoy a drink or two

Ontario man accused of killing 11-year-old daughter dies in hospital, police say

Roopesh Rajkumar had been hospitalized with what police described as a self-inflicted gunshot wound

Manitoba ‘pauses’ link with ex-B.C. premier Gordon Campbell after allegations

Campbell had been hired to review two major hydro projects

Heritage minute features Japanese-Canadian baseball team, internment

The Vancouver Asahi baseball team won various championships across the Pacific Northwest

UPDATE: Woman, off-duty cop in critical condition after stabbing outside B.C. elementary school

The officer was interceding in an alleged assault when he and the woman were stabbed

$10-a-day child care not in 2019 budget, but advocate not irked

Sharon Gregson with the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of B.C. says NDP on track to deliver promise

Most Read