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UPDATED: Local businesses and First Nation community collaborate on new project


PICTOU LANDING – In December 2011 Pictou Landing First Nation closed its band office because it was in “rough shape.”

Chief Andrea Paul says the building was making people sick. “We had to get out of the building and put people in different buildings,” she said. “Our band administration office is our focal point, and having employees scattered around created confusion amongst band members.”

Fast forward a few years, and Paul is sitting down with Pictou County Chamber of Commerce executive director Jack Kyte to “throw ideas around.”

The need for a new band office came up, and Kyte got an idea to bring partners together that would help both Paul’s community and local businesses. “Jack had this vision. It’s an extremely innovative project,” she said.

Working in partnership, MacGregor’s Industrial Group of McLellans Brook, PoleCo of Halifax and PLFN will design a state-of-the-art, energy efficient building using modern construction techniques. After research and design is complete, the idea is to construct a demonstration building that will serve two purposes – to replace the closed band office and to be used as a marketing tool.

“Our chamber is focused on connecting business and people in ways that stimulate growth in our local economy. In this case, government, the private sector and the Pictou Landing First Nation have truly made that connection, resulting in a unique project with great potential,” said Kyte. 

Thursday during a press conference, MP Peter MacKay announced that ACOA is providing $58,500 through its Business Development Program to lead the project.

“This investment is about helping Atlantic Canadian businesses develop new products and bring them to market,” said MacKay.

PLFN, MacGregor’s, PoleCo and the chamber are also contributing financially toward the project.

“We’re really excited about this announcement,” said Paul.

MacGregors manufactures energy-efficient modular steel buildings that are fabricated locally and can be shipped to other locations and quickly erected.

Dave MacGregor, manager of business development for MacGregor Industrial Group, said the key attributes of the buildings are speed of construction, ease of transportation, and energy efficiency. The idea is to market the buildings for potential sales in remote areas such as Canada’s north and the Caribbean where costs of traditional construction projects are prohibitive.

MacKay said the building concept has broad applications, as they can be easily transported for disaster relief use or as medical centres for the military.

 “As this project evolved, Minister MacKay and his team at ACOA recognized there’s a great opportunity here. There’s a need for a band office, and that’s typically what gets built, but there’s a much greater opportunity here for a demonstration project,” said MacGregor.

ACOA also assisted by bringing in new partners – PoleCo – to help make the building more energy-efficient, and will assist in making introductions to other players in the market. “That is incredibly important,” he said.

PoleCo is a solar energy firm based in Halifax. “We’re excited to have a demonstration project here in our backyard,” said general manager Sean Fleming. “The integration of renewable energy will set the building apart from traditional community buildings.”

Part of the concept is to film the construction of the band office to use as a promotional video.

“The whole purpose is to produce an excellent product for Pictou Landing and use it as a demonstration project and market it as an example. That’s where job growth comes,” said MacGregor.

“Our government values effective community partnerships,” said MacKay. “This project is a prime example of local innovation and collaboration between the private sector, the First Nations community and government. Our government is pleased to support the design of these energy efficient buildings to improve the quality of life for families and to promote safe, healthy and prosperous communities.”

PLFN intends to locate the new building on the site of the current band office. The approximately 6,000-square-foot building is expected to cost $1.5 million. Funding for the actual construction hasn’t been secured yet.

Kyte said it’s interesting to see how just talking to people can generate great ideas. “You can’t do economic development from an office – you have to make connections.”

Chief Andrea Paul says the building was making people sick. “We had to get out of the building and put people in different buildings,” she said. “Our band administration office is our focal point, and having employees scattered around created confusion amongst band members.”

Fast forward a few years, and Paul is sitting down with Pictou County Chamber of Commerce executive director Jack Kyte to “throw ideas around.”

The need for a new band office came up, and Kyte got an idea to bring partners together that would help both Paul’s community and local businesses. “Jack had this vision. It’s an extremely innovative project,” she said.

Working in partnership, MacGregor’s Industrial Group of McLellans Brook, PoleCo of Halifax and PLFN will design a state-of-the-art, energy efficient building using modern construction techniques. After research and design is complete, the idea is to construct a demonstration building that will serve two purposes – to replace the closed band office and to be used as a marketing tool.

“Our chamber is focused on connecting business and people in ways that stimulate growth in our local economy. In this case, government, the private sector and the Pictou Landing First Nation have truly made that connection, resulting in a unique project with great potential,” said Kyte. 

Thursday during a press conference, MP Peter MacKay announced that ACOA is providing $58,500 through its Business Development Program to lead the project.

“This investment is about helping Atlantic Canadian businesses develop new products and bring them to market,” said MacKay.

PLFN, MacGregor’s, PoleCo and the chamber are also contributing financially toward the project.

“We’re really excited about this announcement,” said Paul.

MacGregors manufactures energy-efficient modular steel buildings that are fabricated locally and can be shipped to other locations and quickly erected.

Dave MacGregor, manager of business development for MacGregor Industrial Group, said the key attributes of the buildings are speed of construction, ease of transportation, and energy efficiency. The idea is to market the buildings for potential sales in remote areas such as Canada’s north and the Caribbean where costs of traditional construction projects are prohibitive.

MacKay said the building concept has broad applications, as they can be easily transported for disaster relief use or as medical centres for the military.

 “As this project evolved, Minister MacKay and his team at ACOA recognized there’s a great opportunity here. There’s a need for a band office, and that’s typically what gets built, but there’s a much greater opportunity here for a demonstration project,” said MacGregor.

ACOA also assisted by bringing in new partners – PoleCo – to help make the building more energy-efficient, and will assist in making introductions to other players in the market. “That is incredibly important,” he said.

PoleCo is a solar energy firm based in Halifax. “We’re excited to have a demonstration project here in our backyard,” said general manager Sean Fleming. “The integration of renewable energy will set the building apart from traditional community buildings.”

Part of the concept is to film the construction of the band office to use as a promotional video.

“The whole purpose is to produce an excellent product for Pictou Landing and use it as a demonstration project and market it as an example. That’s where job growth comes,” said MacGregor.

“Our government values effective community partnerships,” said MacKay. “This project is a prime example of local innovation and collaboration between the private sector, the First Nations community and government. Our government is pleased to support the design of these energy efficient buildings to improve the quality of life for families and to promote safe, healthy and prosperous communities.”

PLFN intends to locate the new building on the site of the current band office. The approximately 6,000-square-foot building is expected to cost $1.5 million. Funding for the actual construction hasn’t been secured yet.

Kyte said it’s interesting to see how just talking to people can generate great ideas. “You can’t do economic development from an office – you have to make connections.”

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