City inks $50K yearly funding for Cornwall Innovation Center

Stakeholders in the Cornwall Innovation Center listen in the gallery during a city council meeting on Monday, April 23, 2018. The city has made a $50,000 yearly commitment to the CIC for the next decade. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – City council has made a $50,000 yearly commitment to the Cornwall Innovation Center (CIC) for the next 10 years.

The funding ask, to support the business incubator’s operating budget, passed in a 9-2 vote Monday night. Those voting against the funding were Mark MacDonald and Andre Rivette.

Up until now, the CIC has been operating through private sector and government funding. The center made a presentation to council in early December asking for the financial support.

According to its 2018 budget, the CIC has revenue of $17,000 but its overall expenses this year are $67,000 – most of that is the $28,000 in rent at the Nav Center and Executive Director Kelly Bergeron’s salary of $30,000 (pro-rated salary based on time apportioned to CIC activities).

Coun. Elaine MacDonald encouraged fellow councillors to support it and “accept the invitation” from the CIC “to partner with them.” MacDonald said the growth and the future of the city are “very closely aligned” with the aims of the CIC.

While still supporting it in the end, Coun. David Murphy says the request was “bad timing,” considering the city is struggling with its budget with a 4.86 per cent tax increase – and it isn’t even approved nearly half way through the year.

“I think it makes sense for a number of factors,” Coun. Justin Towndale said. “This is good for us. We are connecting organizations and companies, not only locally, but outside the community and they’re coming in here and setting up shop.”

Towndale said the “longer term picture” could see those businesses relocate here because they are already affiliated with the Cornwall Innovation Center. “The return’s down the road.”

Mayor Leslie O’Shaughnessy said the CIC has given “opportunities that we could never offer to our youth previously.” He believes the “root benefit” of the CIC is addressing public feedback about offering post-secondary opportunities to keep youth in the city and “build their dreams.”

The money has not been budgeted. That will be discussed during a budget meeting on April 30.

The CIC has been operating at Nav Center for about a year.