Sunday, June 21, 2009

"One Stone, Three Birds"... smart work...

Although I wasn't able to make it to the announcement on Friday afternoon I did get a report from a couple of our staff who had attended and their comments were that the Premier looked and acted very Statesman like in announcing this great project. In looking at the mainstream media's take on the project the CBC ran with their typical story of "greenspace, the price of development" with no mention of the jobs the project will create while the Guardian pretty much stuck to the Government script with respect to the jobs and investment. When I had first heard of this project back a year ago I was a little suspect that we may be in for another "Atlantic Technology Centre" where the Government heads out with a big dream to lure high tech firms "from away" into the building but the moment it starts to falter they start filling the space with coffee shops, radio stations, cell phone companies, etc... and start competing against private enterprises landlords which is exactly what they've done.... it appears to be different here as there seems to be a bigger vision coming from Michael Mayne and the Premier and they certainly started on the right foot. They originally intended to try and locate the Bio-Commons on the Sisters of St. Martha's land next to the University but couldn't finish off a deal with the nuns and personally I think they would have had serious trouble with the "cell" phone neighbours... I among others tried offering them some alternate commercial parcels but they stuck to their guns which was the right thing to do and they developed a scheme to get the best use out of Upton Farms.... and insiders tell me that this came "straight from the Premier"... we've all heard the old expression "two birds with one stone" which may have originated from an old Chinese expression translated as "one stone, two birds" but in this case the Premier hit a home run with "one stone, three birds".... 1. a 150 acre preservation greenspace in the form of a "trust" which is quite clever as it keeps the "Save Upton Group" as partners while they proceed with the balance of development.. 2. a 65 acre business park for bioscience research and development, manufacturing and support service facilities which they promise won't compete with private enterprises... and 3. fifteen acres has been identified as the future site of a new provincial long-term care facility to replace the Prince Edward Home..... in fact it's more than a "home run" it's a genius real estate deal as they get their "Bio-Commons Industrial Park" and have the advantage of having friends and seniors on their side as they push forward and all Islanders get the benefits of the jobs, investment and choice that come with it. At $2,375,000.00 the Province should be charged with robbery but they did get Canada Lands off the hook for land they couldn't figure out how to get "past go" with. Kudos to all those involved including the "Feds" for stepping up to the plate and supporting the project... great "vision", great price and great news...
Major project gets unveiled BioCommons facility expected to employ 500, pump millions into economy
The Guardian
Details of the $30-million BioCommons Research Park announced by the province over a year ago were finally unveiled Friday in Charlottetown.
After a year of negotiation and consultations with industry, government and community stakeholders, the province purchased the 275-acre Upton Farm property in West Royalty from Canada Lands for $2.375 million.
The farmland across from the West Royalty Industrial Park will soon house a 65-acre BioCommons, which will consist of several labs and building structures, reminiscent of a university campus. These will become home to bioscience research and development companies, as well as businesses specializing in manufacturing and support services.
The heart of the commons will be a state-of-the-art biotechnology incubator for companies to use for commercializing their products.
This $30-million mega-project was a cornerstone of the province’s $200-million Island Prosperity Strategy, which focuses on four key economic sectors: bioscience, information technology, aerospace and renewable energy.
Premier Robert Ghiz says the BioCommons will become a key piece of infrastructure that will attract leading bioscience companies to P.E.I.
This means well-paid jobs for Islanders, Ghiz said. By its fifth year, the BioCommons is expected to employ 500 people with an annual payroll exceeding $25 million, and generate sales of up to $90 million a year in exports.
“This will put P.E.I. on the world bioscience map,” Ghiz said during a press conference in Charlottetown Friday.
Micheal Mayne, deputy minister of Innovation and Advanced Learning, explained how a key mandate of the BioCommons will be to help the farming and fisheries sectors thrive on P.E.I. as well.
Bioscientific research is leading to discoveries of new uses for fish, livestock and produce products. For example, bioscience experts have recently discovered healing properties in blue mussels, Mayne said.
“Mussels are typically seen of as food… but our Island blue mussels have an oil in them that’s very good as an anti-inflammatory. This means that it’s good for people with arthritis,” he said.
“There’s a tremendous opportunity for us to explore. This oil has already sold in Europe for $50 million a year, and that market is growing.”
This is just one example of many that could be developed to serve not only biotechnology companies, but Island farmers and fishers as well, Ghiz said.
“A key mandate of the BioCommons is to connect our primary sectors to the modern tools of biotechnology so that P.E.I. can further optimize and benefit from our primary resources.”
Denis Kay, chief science officer for a P.E.I.-based bioscience company called Neurodyn, said the BioCommons will be a major attraction for companies like his with products that have been through initial testing and need a bigger space for expansion and commercialization.
“This is the most difficult phase for a biotechnology company to take their technology platform out of the research lab and into a commercial environment and this business accelerator and commercialization space will allow us to do this with a much greater probability of success,” Kay said.
The BioCommons will be governed by an industry-led board made up of experts in the bioscience field.
It will receive transitional funding from the province to cover the early stage costs and is expected to become self-sufficient by year five.
Construction is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2010 with an official opening in the fall of 2011


Anonymous said...

Hey Tim....Just wanted to make a few points to clarify the situation.

As for the 'friends', I hope you are not confusing us with the "Friends of the Farm" as we are not the same group whatsoever. Anyway, all in all, I think this was a win-win and the taxpayers can thank the Upton Farm Preservation Network for their three years of work on this, as well as CLC. The Province was VERY late to the game and only became interested in the land for any purpose AFTER the deal with the Sisters fell through. As for the price, again, WE (UFPN)got that price (actually less) by working with CLC long before the province stepped in...a point that should be made. By the way, love the blog.

Hans Connor said...

Hi Tim,

I think your "insider info" is just "political spin". It was just regular citizens like you, me and the Save Upton Farm group that made this deal possible. The Ghiz/Mayne people just "stumbled upon" an opportunity. Don't get me wrong, I think its a great deal and I hope you and your team get involved because I know you would do a great job. But putting the "political class" on a pedestal disempowers the real "doers and carers" out there. Just my opinion. I wrote some other thoughts on my own blog.



Tim Banks said...

Thanks for the comments and yes the Province was late getting to the table but in hockey we'll never know had Paul Henderson not jumped over the boards in the last minute of the game would Canada have won but we do know he got all the credit. That will be the case here as in the final briefings of where to put the Bio-Commons Premier Ghiz was being pushed due to funding timing to take the easy way out with site options at the airport, West Royalty, etc... that were ready to go... but I hear he walked over to the maps and put his finger back on the Upton property and said "this is where it's going" and like Henderson he put the puck in the net...
I'll have a look at your blog comments...

Hans Connor said...

I like the hockey analaogy! And as we know from history, Canada won the game and the series... And its the same thing here... At then end of the day, thhis is going to be a big "win" for PEI...

Unknown said...

As Hans said, it's the end result that matters, but I personally believe in getting the facts straight. By the way, I was "anonymous"...(by accident). I stand by my comments as always. (Heidi Hyndman)

Anonymous said...

Did I not see your photo on the Save Upton Farm website, taken at the Farmers Market, endorsing Upton Farm? As I recall, it was taken with Kirsten Connor and you were purchasing a Save Upton Farm license plate. It was a few years ago. Glad you are still supporting the farm as green space after all this time.