98 The Beach

98 The Beach

Monday, February 24, 2020

Owen Sound Businesses Want Bruce Power Economic Spinoff

Owen Sound | by Claire McCormack  

Bruce Power suppliers have settled around the region & about 1,000 more workers are expected to arrive this summer.

Mercanti, Austin & Fernandes 

The Owen Sound and District Chamber of Commerce is hoping for more positive economic spinoff from the Bruce Power Major Component Replacement project.

Chamber members heard from speakers at a talk on Thursday, commercial space in Saugeen Shores and Kincardine is filling up quickly.

Nuclear industry spokespeople Chris Mercanti and Alison Fernandes updated area businesspeople at the Chamber breakfast event in Owen Sound.

Bruce Power Manager of Community and Indigenous Relations Chris Mercanti says they're expecting 1,000 more people to move to the region this summer which means there's a need for housing and commercial space.

Saugeen Shores' Director of Strategic Initiatives Jessica Linthorne says "Although we’ve seen local vacancies decrease, we continue to have vacant properties, in addition to commercial buildings under construction at this time."

She adds,"There is plenty of opportunity in Saugeen Shores for entrepreneurs to be successful, for retailers or service industry to open up shop."

"Our economic development team recognizes the incredible economic opportunity provided to the tri-county region," adds Linthorne.

In addition to Saugeen Shores and Kincardine, The Organization of Canadian Nuclear Industries' Alison Fernandes helps Bruce Power suppliers set up in the area and says the company wants to see those businesses spread out within the region.

"There are towns saying 'Hey, look at us,' and what I do, is work with a lot of the municipalities. We hosts breakfast forums and bring other suppliers in there so the municipality can demonstrate land that they have or buildings they might have vacant," says Fernandes, giving the example of how the supplier Kinectrics in Teeswater gives the village exposure to more opportunities.

The Owen Sound and District Chamber of Commerce's Diane Austin likes the sound of that, and plans to work with Bruce Power to bring people over to the city as well, "More people hopefully will come to this area and businesses will come to this area as well, not only just the Bruce area."

Right now there are 59 suppliers at 65 locations in the area.

Meanwhile, the need for skilled workers and housing are a major concern.

Ed Stengel from The Agency (an employment agency in Owen Sound and Hanover) says his company is now collaborating with OCNI to bring in skilled tradespeople, "Joining OCNI gives us the opportunity to meet with suppliers and talk to them about their needs because there is a huge need."

Stengel says The Agency places everyone from CEOs to production workers in everything from temporary employment to headhunting and full-time employment, but Stengel notes housing and transportation are major factors in bringing people to the area.

OCNI's Fernandes says governments, businesses and community organizations including OCNI are working on coming up with some kind of solution for the housing demand.

Meanwhile, Bruce Power's Mercanti also notes, it's a way for surrounding communities to grow, "I think as people get out and they see this area and they see the Bruce Peninsula and the counties, they're finding their own areas of interest. Some people are high up on the Peninsula, some people are inland...Some of the contractors that come here are really interested in the open spaces we have in the smaller communities."




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