Research Park lands new tenant

FILLING UP  Officials with Sarnia-Lambton's Research Park say things are looking up after Enbridge has signed a lease to bring 40 employees to the building.

FILLING UP Officials with Sarnia-Lambton’s Research Park say things are looking up after Enbridge has signed a lease to bring 40 employees to the building.

The Sarnia-Lambton Research Park has landed a major new tenant.

Enbridge plans to move its Sarnia staff into the facility managed by the University of Western Ontario on Modeland Road.

The new tenant puts the Lambton County owned facility on better foot and in a position to hire a general manager based in Sarnia.

Paul Paolatto, Acting Manager of the Research Park, says renovations on 15,000 square feet of space have begun to bring up to 40 employees into the park by July 1.

Enbridge spokesman Ken Hall says the company hired on five new employees which made its already cramped Canada Drive home simply too small. “The new facility is going to be great …the extra space will be nice,” says Hall. “We’re very cramped where we are now.”

The move is welcome news to Paolatto. The Research Park has had a rough financial ride recently. It had a cash flow problem when NCO – a major tenant in the Modeland Road facility – closed shop. The rent was worth about $1 million per year.

Paolatto came on board and got to work to lessen the impact of the loss by reduced staff. He then went to county council to get politicians to approve a financial package to suspend the Research Park’s $1.4 million yearly payment on its $17 million debt. Even though there were some detractors, county council backed the idea by a vote of 29 to 5. That, in part, helped land the new tenant.

“Our job was made a heck of a lot simpler with the 29-5 support of county council,” Paolatto says. “They kind of hung in with us…That demonstrated their long-term commitment to the park.

“It’s important for the community to know that being bold sometimes works.”

Paolatto says Enbridge’s commitment and the very strong possibility of an additional two tenants coming on board in the near future has put the park on a better financial footing allowing the board to start looking for a general manager to be based in Sarnia.

– Heather Wright

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