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NORCAT set to expand

December 1, 2010
by Adelle Larmour
In: News with 0 Comments

The Northern Centre for Advanced Technology (NORCAT) is expanding again.

“The big demand has been for shop space,” said Darryl Lake, NORCAT’s executive director and CEO, who has been the driving force behind the development of the not-for-profit technology and training centre.Since its establishment in 1995, this Sudbury-based incubator of new products, technologies and processes for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) has been steadily growing. It’s a leader in occupational health and safety training, mine training, technology innovation and commercialization.It is also home to an expanding space exploration division where research and development of space mining equipment continues, thanks to contracts from NASA and the Canadian Space Agency. These contracts have grown in value, resulting in greater demand for physical space.

It was only two years ago in December that NORCAT moved to its new 60,000 square-foot facility located on a 12-acre parcel just down the road from its former location at Cambrian College. Now, NORCAT will be breaking ground again for a $2.2-million addition consisting of about 5,000-plus square feet of shop space.

“We suspected a strong demand, but didn’t expect to be 100 per cent full within a year of moving in,” Lake said. At any one time, the centre has between four and six interested companies on a waiting list.

Currently, 14 businesses occupy a combination of office and shop space, with access to a full suite of multi-media and secretarial services and conference rooms.

NORCAT houses a variety of businesses – from the construction, mining and medical fields to companies involved in software development, animation and simulation projects. “We try to reflect what is going on in the community,” Lake said.

Training

Besides the urgent need for shop space, various requests continue to keep Lake busy as he considers setting aside square footage for a clean room and laboratory space. He is also exploring the legal implications of an out-of-town company interested in building on the property.

The training classrooms have been running at about 90 per cent capacity since the spring. In addition to occupational health and safety training, NORCAT provides certification for contractor orientation either in person or through the eLearning Production Centre, which has a national and global reach. It generates all of its material in-house and has become popular with larger companies. Revenues have increased to in excess of approximately $1million from $200,000 to $300,000 five years ago.

The Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation matched FedNor’s $1 million contribution for infrastructure development. Another $400,000 from FedNor will be used to assist the SMEs once they have moved into the newly expanded space.

“We’ll not only be able to build and house SMEs in the building, we’ll be able to support their activities,” Lake said, explaining that the expansion will likely accommodate between three to four businesses, depending on their needs. As well, there are plans to convert some of the excess office space into shop space.

As details are finalized with the funding agencies, Lake hopes to have the footings and foundation in the ground before the snow falls, leading to the completion of the expansion by late spring/early summer.

Yallowega Bélanger Architecture, the building’s original architects, will be designing the addition. Lake said the facility was designed with “tremendous capacity” and can expand “a couple of more times” without having to upgrade services.

www.norcat.org

 

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