The Sarnia Observer- Friday, March 13, 2015
Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley has been re-elected chairperson of the community development corporation running the Western Sarnia-Lambton Research Park.
Lambton College president Judith Morris was elected vice-chairperson at Thursday’s meeting of board of directors for the community development corporation formed by Lambton County more than a decade ago when it purchased the former Dow research and office building located next to Modeland Road in Sarnia.
At the meeting, board members heard from executive director Tom Striffler that occupancy at the research park currently exceeds 97%.
“That’s a great place to be,” Bradley said.
The research park, made up of 29,000 square metres of space in five connected building, went through some tough years after it lost NCO as a tenant after its call centre closed in 2012.
Occupancy dropped to 40% but the research park was able to attract new tenants, including another call centre, and restructured it $21-million debt.
Bradley said that unlike the first 10 years when the individual administering the facility was in London and looking after several facilities, the research park now has its own executive director.
“That has made a huge difference, having our manager right here in the community,” Bradley said.
While the corporation still has debt, it’s paying its own way, he added.
“The London park took 25 years before it was solvent, so in research park years we’re doing very well.”
Bradley said the corporation will be putting out a call in the coming months to fill two vacancies for community seats on the board.
The board is also working to engage the community more about what the research park is doing.
“I think for many people in the community the research park’s a mystery,” Bradley said.
As well as renting office space to several organizations and business, the facility offers research space and a pilot plant facility being used by several bio-industry companies working to develop technologies, with the aim of attracting new jobs to Sarnia-Lambton.
“It’s our long-term future,” Bradley said.
The research park will be hosting members of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce in May, as well as the 10th annual Capstone Engineering and Design Competition on March 20.
More than 60 students from Western University’s Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering are expected to showcase their design projects to a panel of judges during the competition.
“Capstone has a profound impact on the futures of students and industry,” said Katherine Albion, director of The Bowman Centre, located at the research park.
“The knowledge shared at these events goes a long way into shaping the careers of students and prospects for industry.”
The presentations are scheduled to begin at 8:45 a.m., with the awards announced at 2 p.m.
The research park is also working with Lambton College to present a Water symposium March 26 at the Lambton College Residence and Event Centre.