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You Can’t Start a Fire Without a Spark

Investment attraction is a function of facilitating the growth of the local economy through two distinct streams: encouraging expansion and reinvestment of existing business and generating new investment from outside business. Outside investment can be realized either domestically or internationally, coined as a foreign enterprise. Foreign direct investment is a long-term initiative for any municipality or country for that matter and is a critical pursuit given the context of the global economy. Rarely is success achieved by being foolhardy or rash. Rather, it is reserved for those that are bold, daring, and deliberate. At times, these qualities can be difficult to distinguish, however that is the role of a businessperson.

There is a saying in Economic Development: “People invest in relationships.” Indeed, there is much value when you are able to establish trust, familiarity, and comfort with a business owner. Typical concerns are important too, such as leasing, taxes, labour, and lifestyle, but without trust, there is not much to separate one municipality from another in the pursuit of business investment.

Working to identify foreign companies with a propensity to explore new markets within North America is a key undertaking of Summerside’s efforts in partnership with our Provincial and Federal colleagues. We are constantly working to identify companies that align with Summerside’s interests. A key differentiator in our efforts is our Living Lab, a novel idea that allows us to partner with a company. 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.

By identifying specific opportunities for these companies, we suddenly make a more endearing case than many of our competitors. Besides opportunity, there is also the element of trust, as mentioned above. In an effort to consolidate both of these, Summerside’s Economic Development Team along with Innovation PEI and Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency hosted six United Kingdom companies from Nov. 18-21 which had been identified as looking at expansion to North America. The visiting companies were:

Connective Touch (biometrics)
Industrial Phycology (wastewater algae treatment)
OpenPlay (all-in-one recreational software solution)

Surple (energy management software)
Hello Lamp Post (public engagement platform)
Cottam & Brookes (aerospace)

Our department, along with Innovation PEI and ACOA, set out to identify the natural synergies between our local businesses and our visiting delegation. In all, our foreign investment prospects were able to meet with over 50 individuals and organizations to discuss and explore doing business in North America, the “in and outs” from a legal and accounting perspective and collaborate directly with local companies interested in expanding their product and service offerings.

Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive from all participants and our value proposition has been met with great enthusiasm. The connections made and engagement with our local enterprise has proven to be a great spark for longer-term business growth opportunities and the community.   


Does It Hurt When I Do This?

During a presentation at the Economic Developers Association of Canada in Fredericton a few months ago, Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency President Francis McGuire explained that ACOA’s three focus areas are labour, immigration, and automation, in that order.  Indeed, labour is often the top concern for any given municipality. The “build and they will come” mentality is not nearly as prevalent as it was decades ago.  People need an overt reason to relocate/expand themselves, and this is true for virtually every industry, including health care.

Physician recruitment is often taken for granted.  In most provinces, there is a crown corporation responsible for this.  There are also several private companies for hire. Either way, to most municipal EDOs, physician needs to take care of themselves while they focus on traditional investment.  As with most things, we see things differently.

In March of this year, a group of Summerside physicians and the Department of Economic Development collaborated on a project to help supplement the great work being done Provincially, heighten the awareness of a growing sector of our economy and showcase, as part of our overall approach to business growth and expansion, the value and impact of the health care sector in Summerside.  

Over the past few months, our partnership has set out to create both print and social media collateral highlighting our capabilities in positioning Summerside and the area as a premier location for physicians as well as showcasing to our business and labour clients the depth and diversity of our health care industry in Summerside.  

Attending the Family Medicine Forum, the largest gathering of family physicians in Canada, allowed our partnership to showcase Summerside and all it has to offer when it comes to medical services and infrastructure in an environment that embodies both work-life balance and meaningful collaboration with medical professionals, health facilities, and business leaders.  The goal of attending this event was to engage and connect with medical professionals that may have an interest in starting a practice in Summerside.  

Our medical community comprises a group of dedicated professionals working with advanced amenities to deliver the highest level of service and care for Prince Edward Islanders. In addition to private medical offices, this community includes the Summerside Medical Centre, a multidisciplinary clinic employing 24 physicians, Harbourside Health Centre, a collaborative facility of Health PEI, and Prince County Hospital, a 102-bed facility providing a diverse range of services as well as a number of independent and solo practices.

Much convincing is not required for us to see the value in physician recruitment. When we attempt to attract businesses to Summerside or assist a local company in their expansion efforts one of their first questions is “Can you tell me about health care?” Realizing that new or expanding businesses bring families that require support structures, including doctors. That consideration is just as important to them as available space, lease rates, or labour.

The partnership between our department and the Summerside physicians is a natural partnership. There are benefits to both sides and we hope to continue our fruitful relationship with one another.


Brief Review of 2018 and What is Ahead

2018 was a brisk and productive year for our EDO and 2019 is shaping up to be as busy with a diverse and wide range of opportunities in the community.  The year was filled with major events, meetings, inquiries, and developments.  Some brief highlights from the year include:
This is an ongoing campaign that began in October 2017. There are three target audiences, namely students, ex-pats, and business immigrants. The basic idea is to create awareness among these groups that Summerside can offer them the life they’ve always wanted. This is done through social media posts, newsletters, newspaper advertisements, and a dedicated webpage profiling our MySummerside ambassadors. To date, two rounds of four ambassadors have been published, the most recent being in November, and we already have the next 2 rounds shortlisted for interviews. The great thing about this campaign is that it is nearing a point where prospective ambassadors are reaching out to us.

Building Permit Notes: 2018 saw the conclusion of two major renovations: Three Oaks Senior High School ($22 Million) and ADL ($19 Million). There were approximately $22 Million in total building permits granted in 2018. This includes residential, commercial/industrial, and institutional. This total exceeds every year of the past decade with the exceptions of 2011 and 2017, both of which contained major institutional projects, such as Three Oaks in 2017.

Other major projects this year included Oceanview Resort, County Fair Mall, Evermoore Brewery, Granville St. Esso, Township Chevrolet, PEI Cannabis, Dan’s Muffler, Prince County Hospital, the former Summerset Manor, 601 Water St. East (Jade Garden building), and various properties owned by The City of Summerside.

Residentially, there were several new builds, including 17 single-detached homes, 8 semi-detached homes, and 1-row house. Most of these were within the areas of St. Clair St., MacKenzie Dr., and MacEwen Dr.
One of our slogans, “Open For Business”, is really starting to catch on. As we continue to carve relationships with investors, word gets around that Summerside may fit into the expansion needs of businesses. During this year, we have had inquiries representing a total of approximately 70,000 sq ft from commercial and industrial tenants, and this does not include the needs of potential investors that visited us through the Provincial Nominee Program.  
We continue to assist local companies with labour needs. We have two tools for this – Magnet, designed for labour attraction, and Vicinity, an analytical job market tool.
( Besides these, we also use our communications network (newsletters, social media, website, special campaigns) to attract job seekers.  
2018 was a year of growth for several of our major employers, particularly in the aerospace and IT sectors.  Regarding the former, StandardAero announced they would be renovating 300,000 sq ft of space and hiring for 80 new positions. With respect to the latter, IO Solutions, Careworx,, Worklinks, and Starport all indicated an intent to expand their operations.  Indeed, these two sectors have come a long way in a short time. And this is in addition to the slew of UK companies listed in the first newsletter article, one of which already has a presence in Summerside.
Priorities for 2019
Every single category within this newsletter contains some sort of action item heading into 2019, and we fully intend to keep our momentum going. We have many tactics, programs and initiatives envisioned for 2019 and look forward to a more detailed sharing of our plans in our annual report of 2018.


On behalf of Mike and Neil and the rest of our partners in Economic Development, we wish all our readers Happy Holidays and a prosperous 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 have ever sent.

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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