'We need more people working downtown and more people living downtown'
Courtenay realtor James Smith would like to see a greater number of employment opportunities and a higher quality of life in the Comox Valley.
He hopes his idea for a co-working space conducive to a meeting of the minds of those with skills in design, science and technology can contribute to this vision.
"I feel a personal need to create more employment opportunities," said Smith, who won the technology leadership category at the annual Mid-Island Science Technology & Innovation Council Innovation (MISTIC) Awards last week in Nanaimo.
Once renovated, the building at 367 Fourth St. in Courtenay will combine private offices and an open area where individuals or small ﬁrms engaged in science, design and technology can meet. A casual networking environment, Smith surmises, can foster new ideas and products. The web developer, for instance, speaks with the PR person who talks to someone who specializes in touch screen application programming.
"We have some very talented people who are looking at renting the space," Smith said.
He hopes to show that technology-oriented industries are part of the local economy and are bigger than people might imagine.
Another element of the co-working space is to attract new people from outside the area.
"I believe that to have a true, long-term impact, we need more people working downtown and more people living downtown," he said.
Smith considers himself a facilitator in the project. He is supported by Jamie McCue, a future tenant who runs the web posse, and the landlord, Jamie Edwards.
Other MISTIC finalists from the Valley were Courtenay companies Island Labs and Tickit in the Excellence in Innovation category, and Intigi of Comox in the Innovative Startup of the Year category.
This was the final year for the awards, created in 2006 to highlight and recognize the emergence of knowledge-based businesses on the Island.