Local Tech Attracts Top Talent to Kanata North
By Jeff Buckstein
A revitalized local high tech industry, led in large part by bright and innovative young entrepreneurs who are willing to take risks, has blossomed in Ottawa.
Martin Vandewouw, president of KRP Properties, a leading local commercial landlord and property management firm, has seen this transformation take place in Kanata following the global technology crash in the early 2000s that led to the exodus of some big name players from the local scene.
“Since the tech wreck the number of tenants we have has increased significantly. In our portfolio of three million square feet, we have over 260 tenants. About 160 are directly involved in tech. The others are affiliated with tech, or they’re services type companies such as investment firms, legal, food services, dentists, chiropractors, physiotherapists,” says Vandewouw.
KRP Properties is currently responsible for the leasing and property management of 34 buildings, including parts of Kanata North Technology Park and all of Kanata Research Park.
“I’ve been here 17 years and the amount of space that we’ve managed has continued to grow, either by development of land in our portfolio, or acquisition of buildings that we’ve purchased,” says Vandewouw.
The success of tech in Kanata North has also resulted in some growing pains, including increased traffic along March Road, particularly during rush hour.
“Regardless of where you go in Ottawa, there has been significantly more traffic over the last couple of years. The case is very similar for Kanata North,” notes Vandewouw. “Fortunately, the City has taken a number of steps over the past year to ensure disruptions are kept to a minimum.”
Vandewouw says there are intensive efforts to attract and recruit top talent to local businesses in Kanata, not only from smaller start-ups, but also from the larger global players such as Nokia Corporation, Ciena Corporation, Ericsson Canada Inc., and Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd.
“We have a very active business association that represents the interests of the tech community out here. They work in partnership with the local businesses to address the challenges in attracting and retaining top talent,” he elaborates.
A key strategy to attract the best and the brightest young talent involves maintaining strong links to Canadian universities and colleges, including those based locally, with the University of Ottawa establishing a physical location in the Tech Park.
“There are a number of things that the community in Kanata are doing in terms of making sure that we’re visible not only in Ottawa, but throughout Canada, the U.S., and globally from a talent attraction standpoint, and also from a business and economic development standpoint,” he stresses.
Jeff Buckstein is a Kanata-based freelance business writer.