Municipal economic development officials have the approval to move out of the Civic Centre and move in with a federal company.
Economic development will join forces with Community Futures Development Corporation (CFDC), and will move into that corporation’s Thames Street offices at the beginning of September.
The lease agreement will be for two years, with the option to extend or review if mutually agreed upon.
Stuart McFadden, acting director of economic development for the municipality, said both organizations help local businesses.
“The clients at CFCD and the ones we serve are the same. We’re here to serve businesses and entrepreneurs – new and existing – in Chatham-Kent,” he said. “We help create business plans. It makes sense, but all of a sudden, they need funding. CFDC is a funding agency. They can work with the company going forward.”
Economic development staff for the municipality moved out of their own office last September, after the Grand Avenue West building was sold. The staff moved into the Civic Centre, but were scattered throughout the building, taking up space where it was available.
McFadden said it would be good to get the team together in one spot again.
“It’s similar to what we have right now,” he said, referring to overall space, “but we’re not all together in one area right now. This provides us an opportunity to get the team together. It’s enough space to do our job.”
The CFDC building on Thames Street has offices and a conference room located in a horseshoe around an open-concept main area. McFadden said
McFadden said economic development and the CFDC casually discussed the concept of sharing space in the past, but the timing was never right. But after a recent meeting with several CFDC board members, he said everyone realized the benefits of coexisting under one roof.
“It’s just natural synergies with what they and we do,” he said.
Being able to work with the CFDC board will also be a bonus, McFadden said.
“CFDC has a board of about 10 people from across Chatham-Kent with various levels of expertise in multiple sectors. What a great resource to tap into that knowledge. It’s almost a built-in advisory committee,” he said.
If for some reason the relationship doesn’t work out, McFadden said it would be easy to pull out after two years.
“The lease is for two years. We’re dating. If it’s working then maybe we have the opportunity to extend. If we find out it’s not working, we have the ability to leave,” he said. “But we’re going in with the best of intentions.”
The lease will be for $18,000 a year, plus taxes and covers utilities, parking, and snow removal.
Estimated IT costs is $7,000, while the purchase of eight workstations is estimated at $16,000.