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Summerside PEI: Powering cleantech businesses looking to expand/break into North America


 
 
  • Summerside, the hub of Canada’s “Green Province” and a testbed for trialling renewable energy sources
  • New funding to fuel cleantech growth
  • Collaborative support infrastructure – including a “Living Lab”
     
As Canada strives to reach its net-zero carbon emissions target by 2050, and with the US pledging to slash greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030, huge opportunities are opening up for companies with innovative cleantech solutions that could advance these ambitious aims. 

Summerside has become one of the global hubs for cleantech innovation. Making that leap into North America or expanding to seize opportunities, of course, can seem daunting — especially to smaller to mid-size enterprises and spinouts. Just how do you test out the markets, navigate the regulatory processes, recruit the right people on the ground, and establish yourself without a big budget?

That mission has been made significantly easier in Summerside on Prince Edward Island, a proven testbed for cleantech products and services from where companies can readily penetrate the whole North American market and the addition of the Summerside Xchange (https://www.summersidexchange.com).

While Summerside is a smaller market, it’s part of a very large eco-system — a region of 2.4 million people with a collective GDP of $105.8 billion and strong trading connections with the USA.

 
A leader in renewables
 
Known as the “Green Province”, PEI has established itself as a North American leader in renewable energy sources and is being championed by Summerside – helped by the ready availability of wind and solar power and driven by the fact that PEI has long had to import oil from other parts of Canada, Summerside is equipped to be bold in its pursuits to make itself energy independent as rapidly as possible.

Because of that determination, Summerside and PEI have become home to a well-funded public and private sector ecosystem grounded in Summerside. This nurtures innovators in renewable energy, battery storage, passive structures, decarbonization, and other cleantech technologies. With the Government of PEI looking to invest further in the future of the sector with a newly launched $10 million fund for cleantech research and development projects, as well as establishing three tax-free development zones, the future is looking a whole lot greener for Summerside... with significant potential in various cleantech pursuits.

In addition, the nation’s rapid cleantech growth is being turbo-boosted by the recently-announced Strategic Innovation Fund – Net Zero Accelerator: three billion over five years to support sustainable energy and decarbonization projects, scale-up new technology, and encourage the adoption of cleantech solutions. Companies establishing a base here in PEI will be able to benefit from that.
 
Other initiatives to support inward-bound businesses into Summerside being contemplated by our provincial leaders include a fund to secure investments in zero emissions products and a plan to cut corporate tax rates for companies in the space by 50%.
 
Sustainability begins at home…
 
Businesses using Summerside PEI as their launchpad into North America can tap into a well-established support network with a municipally owned infrastructure and its own utility. The Municipal Government takes an active lead by testing innovations, collaborating with the private sector, providing competitive incentives, and offering space at the island’s world-class eco-business park as well as being part of the island’s unique “Living Lab” initiative: a real-life test and experimentation environment where users and producers co-create innovations.

 
Skills for a zero-carbon future
 
Significant advantages of locating here include low labour costs and low corporate tax rates, while the workforce is loyal, with an average tenure rate of 9.3 years — one of the highest rates in the country.  Moreover, a well-established skills base is constantly being supplemented by The University of Prince Edward Island producing a flow of qualified graduates with relevant industry experience, including Sustainable Design Engineering.

With many cleantech businesses now looking to tap into the burgeoning clean tech opportunities in North America, Summerside just makes sense as that perfect base of operations And, if all that wasn’t enough incentive, PEI must be one of the most attractive places in the world to live as well as work!
 
If you'd like to know more about what Summerside PEI could do for your expansion plans let’s talk!
 
 
 
Development in Summerside Continues on the Fast Track in 2022
 
Now that we’re past the half-year mark for 2022, we like to take stock of one of our many metrics on the economy: development activity.  Summerside continues to outperform expectations with investment in business growth and diversification, but still has lots of work to achieve regarding industrial and commercial development to realize its full investment potential.


 
Some of our drivers
 
  • Our population increased drastically, representing a 7.9% increase since 2016: the highest since our amalgamation in 1995
     
  • The release of the Housing Demand study in April 2021 spurred an estimated 8 new subdivisions in Summerside
     
  • For retail, Summerside’s inventory is about 2.01M sq ft, so the vacancy rate going from 9% to 4% in the past few years indicates absorption of about 100,000 sq ft
     
  • Office inventory is about 450k sq ft, so that drop in vacancy (14% to 3%) represents the absorption of about 50,000 sq ft
     
  • The net absorption for industrial space (7% to 1%) is 50,000 sq ft and forthcoming demand is at an all-time high of 100,000 sq ft 
     
  • Total PNP business starts have topped 122, mostly in the retail and service sector, with another 87 set to arrive in all sector classes
     
  • PNP future demand (2023 and beyond) indicates an estimated need for 65,000 sq ft of space
 
Summerside continues to see significant investment in the residential market along with purpose built commercial stock driven by historically low vacancy and surging interest.  However, to seize longer-term opportunities through the attraction of goods-producing industries, Summerside needs to develop more industrial building stock to take advantage of market interest in being in one of Atlantic Canada’s most progressive and green communities.
 
We’ve written in the past about how important Commercial/Industrial development is to the City and Province.  To continually grow a city, you need businesses and industries to provide employment and diversification to create the kind of jobs that motivate young people to either stay or move here.
 
Summerside is confident through its investment in the Summerside Business Commons that we can start to see more investment in our industrial feeder stock to encourage a rebalancing of the economy, bringing quality employment opportunities for our youth and creating year-round, long-term wealth in our community.
 
Midway through 2022, Summerside has again achieved a dynamic and robust economy with many more opportunities for investors to participate in our future. Summerside Economic Development looks forward to engaging, facilitating, and courting Developers and Investors in the future.
 
 
Sunbank Corner… economic impacts
 
Summerside’s Sunbank has been in full swing this summer, making a significant impact not only in the local economy but impacts felt right across the Maritimes.  The $66-million project includes a 21 MW solar power farm (48,000 solar panels) plus a 10 MW/28 MWh battery storage system, with the solar farm located on a city well-water field to maximize the use of the land base as a source of clean drinking water and clean energy for residents.

Completing the project will increase Summerside’s reliance on renewables to more than 60 percent (approximately 42 percent wind and 21 percent solar) of its energy use. With more renewable power generated and stored in the city, the project will also keep more dollars in the community.

This summer, we have had over 90 Full-Time positions on site working on project installation and our lead contractor has hired several students from UPEI and Holland College as part of our mutual commitment to engage with Post-Secondary Education and help students get practical experience and drive clean tech employment. 


1. An electrical installation contractor has been selected and a contract awarded. This will create between 30 to 40 jobs

2. 38 local people are working on site as well as 9 more from the Maritimes and Central Canada region. This number will go up to 75 when we are installing panels

3. Four students from the summer interns have been selected to receive extended contracts throughout the semester

4. Four students are presently performing QA and QC

5. Two students are trained in logistics and project management

6. Three students are involved in engineering

7. Two students are installing small commercial solar panel jobs until the panels are mounted for Sunbank



When Summerside was approved to make this project a reality, our number one priority aside from the amazing innovation of the energy itself was to ensure that we use the privilege of this project to grow and train our labour force of tomorrow, ensure we bestow as much local engagement as possible and showcase how collaboration and innovative thinking can achieve even greater heights.

 


Summerside in Numbers



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 mike@summerside.ca
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: mike@summerside.ca


LET’S BUILD THE FUTURE TOGETHER!
 

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