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A Plan Forward… Building Community Capacity Through 2019 Budget

To ensure Summerside continues to be competitive and significant in the local and global investment arena, we must identify the community strengths and weaknesses and constantly improve on current capabilities based on gaps in the community, including but not limited to human capital and infrastructure. 

There are many definitions of ‘community capacity building’. At first blush, community capacity building can be viewed as a framework that describes a community’s effort, time, resources, leadership and commitment directed towards ‘community’ identified goals and change. As defined by Wikipedia, community capacity building is a conceptual approach to social, behavioural change and leads to infrastructure development. It simultaneously focuses on understanding the obstacles that inhibit people, governments, international organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from realizing their development goals and enhancing the abilities that will allow them to achieve measurable and sustainable results.

For 2019, Economic Development is committed to building capacity (both human and infrastructure) and will focus on addressing the potential of our community to significantly increase the benefits to the Municipality and Province. Our objective is to invest in growth management initiatives that lead to achieving our recently adopted goal of growing the percentage of our Industrial/Commercial tax base from its current 18.6% to a minimum of 21% over the next four years.


Major Initiatives for 2019 
In addition to our core functions of research, data collection and client servicing, Summerside Economic Development will be working on several key new initiatives for 2019. 
Living Lab
Having built a reputation and success both domestically and internationally, the city will continue to forge ahead with new projects under its Living Lab Framework. 

A Living Lab is a real-life test and experimentation environment where users and producers co-create innovations. Living Labs have been characterized by the European Commission as Public-Private-People Partnerships (PPPP) for user-driven open innovation. A Living Lab employs four main activities:
  • Co-Creation: co-design by users and producers
  • Exploration: discovering emerging usages, behaviours and market opportunities
  • Experimentation: implementing live scenarios within communities of users
  • Evaluation: assessment of concepts, products and services according to socio-ergonomic, socio-cognitive and socio-economic criteria 
Summerside’s Living Lab program has established the city as a test bed for firms looking to develop market solutions with validation and full-scale deployment of products and services. It is open to companies seeking rapid results in testing and modelling for advanced deployment in the early stages of product life.

Accelerate R&D, Test, Refine, and Validate Faster to Get Products to Market Sooner!

Filling the gaps between design, prototypes, tabletop experiments, product validation and full-scale commercialization, Summerside’s Living Lab program is capable of accelerating product/service evaluation, R&D, product testing and integration in a real-world setting.

The Living Lab consists of a sophisticated and robust environment with some of the most advanced open and accessible infrastructure in North America. It includes a multi-faceted electric utility, a strong renewable portfolio, fibre networks and municipal assets rivalling any global metropolis. Building on our success with over ten projects to date in a variety of sectors, with four more in the works for 2019, our goal is to add another eight pilots for 2019.  We will be seeking partners in some of the following sectors with our stated goal of business attraction and growth:
  • Electric Distributed Energy Storage and Integration
  • 4 Season EV Testing and Grid Integration
  • Charging Technologies with Storage and Grid Connection
  • Residential Environmental Controls
  • Appliance Control
  • Medical Home Care Solutions
  • Advanced IT System Testing
  • Big Data Interoperability
To learn more about Summerside’s Living Lab: 

Entrepreneurship Infrastructure
Entrepreneurship fuels innovation and economic growth and in Summerside that is the cornerstone of our economic base. For 2019, the office is working with its partners to bring both new physical space to the market to support economic development as well as looking to bring strategic services to stimulate new business through a potential venture investment fund. Furthermore, we will be looking to bring collaborative partners together to help support and grow entrepreneurship in a purposeful way that has not existed before in Summerside. 
Why focus on Entrepreneurship? The reasons are simple:
  1. 87% of businesses have fewer than 20 employees
  2. On average, 130,000 new small businesses are created in Canada each year
  3. Firms with less than 50 employees contribute 30% of Canada’s GDP
  4. Small businesses are responsible for 25% of Canada’s total export value ($68B in 2017)
  5. Nearly 8M of Canada’s 17M workers are employed by small businesses
  6. 50% fail in two years.  65-80% fail in five – having proper support can reverse these trends
With that, the Office of EDO and partners are finalizing the vision for this new transformative business address for entrepreneurs that includes not only the physical but the support services through full-time in-house manager, business focussed events, international connections and access to key venture funding to support growth.

A look at Q1… Signs are Positive
The start to 2019 has been extremely positive on the investment and inquiry front with many new real estate transactions being consummated, significant new investments in our downtown core, client investment interest surpassing this time last year from both local enterprise and foreign entities looking to expand their North American footprint.  Some highlights include:
  • 3 UK companies following a successful inbound mission with our partners from Innovation PEI and ACOA are investing in pilot projects in Summerside to validate and explore an expansion of new businesses in Summerside in the IT and BioMetrics sectors
  • Several downtown commercial properties being recently purchased with plans for major renovations to bring more current stock of lease space on the market
  • 2 professional services business expanding in Summerside
  • Several foreign enterprises looking at making investments in the food and bio-medical field in 2019 in Summerside
  • Expansion plans in the works for several local based manufacturing and service business already established and looking to grow in Summerside
  • Our Immigration clients moving into the next phase of their immigration process and now starting to invest in new business opportunities in Summerside
  • Several new prospects finalizing opportunities under our Living Lab program with several in the renewable energy sector making investments and partnerships in Summerside
Economic Development, along with our key partners, is continuing to position and promote Summerside as an investment location of choice. Given our sound economic fundamentals and market opportunities, Summerside is very attractive for business investment and many investors are now starting to see the potential of our growing, dynamic and open business philosophy. 
Summerside Indicators
Below is a monthly snapshot of some key economic performance indicators for Summerside and PEI. 



Summerside Business in the News

Starport Managed Services
A recent tenant of the Holman Centre in Downtown Summerside, Toronto-based Starport Managed Services first joined us over the summer of 2018. Since co-founders Dave Poulson and Brian Everest have connections to PEI and spend time here during the summer, expanding operations to Summerside was a natural choice. They join several other IT-themed companies that have opened in the area in recent years, including IO Solutions,, and Careworx. The Holman Centre, with tenants such as Starport, is solidifying itself as an IT centre of excellence, which was the building’s original intent.

Managed Services is a timely industry. Many companies lack an internal IT department but still want to maintain their IT infrastructure rather than only attending to it when it breaks down. That’s where a company like Starport comes in. 

Their staff includes Service Desk Analysts, Support Technicians, Support Specialists, and Security Specialists. They began operations in Summerside with a team of five and hope to grow to 10 during 2019.
If interested in learning more about investment opportunities, economic development support or opportunities for growth, please call our Economic Development Professionals.
We would love to chat.

Alternatively, you can email us at
It could be 
the most profitable email you ever send.

Michael Thususka
Director of Economic Development City of Summerside
275 Fitzroy Street, Summerside PE C1N 1H9
M: 902.432.0103, E:


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