Province puts $6 million toward innovation centre

Approximately one-sixth of the funding for the Okanagan Centre for Innovation will come from the provincial government.

Premier Christy Clark announced Monday the province will invest up to $6 million toward the development of the $35-million, six-storey building, which is expected to be completed by early 2016.

"I don't believe that government has a big role in subsidizing business, but I do know that government policy and government decisions can fundamentally alter the direction of an economy," said Clark.

She added the provincial government will be a tenant in the new centre, using space for some of its staff.

"We're going to be using space anyway—we might as well do it here, and might as well be a part of creating a new economic future."

Kelowna City Council unanimously approved a development permit for the project earlier this month.

The Okanagan Centre for Innovation will be constructed on what is currently a grass lawn beside the main Kelowna branch of the Okanagan Regional Library, on the corner of Doyle Avenue and Ellis Street.

The City of Kelowna is providing the land, which is valued at more than $2 million.

"That's a significant investment for a local government and something that really has to do with an economy much larger than just our city," said Kelowna Mayor Walter Gray.

"This investment also supports another goal of council, and that's to balance our community's demographics…we need more jobs for young people."

The majority of the project is being funded by several private investors known as the Kelowna Sustainable Innovation Group.

The new innovation centre will house high-tech start-ups, established businesses, non-profit groups and social enterprises.

Construction on the Okanagan Centre for Innovation will begin later this summer.

Twitter: @PatersonWade


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