The Waterloo region has raised some of the brightest startups that Canada has ever seen. Pebble, BufferBox and Thalmic Labs are a few that come to mind. However, with all the build-up, investments and infusion of assistance from the various incubators it seems there is a lingering issue: Startup are departing the area.
The City of Kitchener is proposing a new initiative called the “Landing Pad Grant Program” that aims to keep the startup community alive and make Downtown Kitchener known as a hotbed for startups and become the “Start-up City.” The goal is for the City to work with property owners, or property they already own, and offer grants to renovate vacant office space and lease it lease to the startups at an affordable rate. The reason is because “Companies emerging from the Communitech HUB leave Waterloo Region because they can’t find the type and price of space they need.”
The City would pay property owners up to 50% of the renovation cost, to a max of $20,000 per floor, but only if they agree to reserve space for startups for set period of time. The total proposed funding is $600,000. Resident will be able to have their say about the Landing Pad Grant Program during a public meeting February 24th at 7:00pm at Kitchener City Hall.
Councillor Dan Glenn-Graham said “We do need reasons to keep people here. We’re competing against the coolest places to work. We’ve got to be lively and we’ve got to be flexible. We’ve got a lot of momentum here but we can’t afford not to put every opportunity forward that we can afford to let the business community know we’re open for business here.”