While a snow storm raged outside, there were flurries of happy reflections and shared visions that filled a packed meeting room at Hub350 recently at the Kanata North Business Association’s annual general meeting.
AGMs can be… well… dry. But 10 years in, KNBA may have just cracked the code on how to balance a look at the past year with its members while building on the excitement for its continued growth.
The past 12 months have been a successful period for the business association, which saw the opening of Hub350, the return to in-person gatherings after a pandemic, the launching of its Ross Media lab – which allows companies to broadcast to the world – and further integrations with postsecondary institutions, including an inaugural KNBA hackathon and the opening of uOttawa’s collision space in the hub.
Amidst all of its wins, KNBA is also celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, a fact Jenna Sudds, Member of Parliament for Kanata-Carleton and founding executive director of the Association, noted in her introduction. She said it has been remarkable to witness the growth of the business association and the companies of Kanata North, despite the challenges the pandemic brought with it.
“I’m the envy of many of my colleagues on Parliament Hill because of this gem and what this offers to our community,” Sudds said. “It is because of the hard work of people like yourself, people starting and running businesses, people who are putting in the work day in and day out.”
A vision for the future
Before calling the meeting to order, Amy MacLeod, vice-president of Corporate Communications at MDA and outgoing chair of KNBA’s board commended the community that continues to flourish in Kanata North.
“Over the course of this past year, partners, mentors, coaches, academic partners, business partners, government partners… all of them have come together to do something really magical and impactful for this community. We’re here tonight to say thank you.”
MacLeod celebrated the work of the KNBA team, and the association’s executive director, Jamie Petten.
“Jamie teaches us every day how to think bigger than I ever would on my own, to execute brilliantly, to hire the best and to do something that has never been done before,” she said.
In her report, MacLeod referred to KNBA’s “decade of growth and progress,” adding the association is the embodiment of that progress now. KNBA completed its current five-year strategic plan, launched in 2018 in its last fiscal year. The board Is in the process of preparing for the next strategic plan to “take Kanata North to its next iteration,” MacLeod said.
“Building on the strong foundation that is now in place, the 2023 Kanata North team and board will be working closely with our business community to create that new strategic plan for Kanata North that will define the next road map and ensure that the park continues to thrive and grow and evolve in the decade ahead. It will foster multi-sector collaboration and help transform Kanata North even further,” MacLeod said.
In her report, Petten spoke to the vision of the last five-year strategy.
“Our mission was clear that by 2022, Kanata North would be recognized as a destination of choice for world-class technical and business talent making. It would be the home of world class work,” Petten said.
Both Petten and MacLeod paid tribute to the hard-working Kanata North team, including Amanda Gordan, Julia Lewis, Erin Moretto, Julia Frame, Michelle Rugema, Kim Perry, Natasha Tardioli, and Heather McCormick. Thanks to partnerships with postsecondary institutions, the business association has employed a number of students in the past years as well.
Petten said a key role for the KNBA was to be an advocate for the businesses of Kanata North to all levels of government.
“I’ve had this great honor of talking to each level of government and shouting from the roof tops exactly what is so special about Kanata North. Our discussions with government at all levels are engaged, confirming that they too have an investment in supporting future of Canada’s largest technology park. I think when I look back to the various missions to Queen’s Park as an example, it feels like they’re paying off now. I see cranes and cement trucks rolling through the technology park and some of those early discussions are starting to come to fruition,” Petten said.
Also this past year, KNBA expanded its leadership program. It now hosts executive councils for its members for CEOs, CFOs, HR, R&D leaders to come together once a month and share best practices and learnings with each other. This has been key in creating a sense of community among the businesses, Petten added.
As KNBA begins building its next strategic plan, attracting and retaining talent are key, both Petten and MacLeod stated at the AGM.
“We’ll continue to position Kanata North as a location of choice for high tech leaders, entrepreneurs and the innovators, engineers and scientists,” MacLeod said. “In the true spirit of global competition and local collaboration, our technology member companies are joining us on this journey by broadening their talent acquisition strategies to create access and opportunity for a more diverse range of people from a broader socioeconomic background and from global backgrounds.”
“We have everything we need to win this talent competition, but we must be known by the world what Kanata North and Canadian technology and innovation has to offer.”
While many factors contribute to the attractiveness of Kanata North to tech firms, Petten said she felt it was the sense of community that KNBA is working to foster that really shines through.
“We’ve continued to support the development of that connected community, and this space in these last 12 months has come alive in a way that I don’t think even our team could have imagined,” Petten said, adding it was “magic” that in the first year of its opening Hub350 saw 10,000 visitors come through the doors and hosted thousands of meetings and events.
Petten, while acknowledging the incredible success of the past year, said that 2022 “is really just a step in the fulfillment of a much larger vision.”
Outgoing members of the KNBA board include Nyle Kelly, GM and executive vice-president of Brookstreet Hotel and Marshes Golf Club; John Luszczek, director, Ericcson Canada Inc.; and Amy MacLeod, who will move into an ex-officio status.
Joining the KNBA board this year is Ben Morris, vice-president of Corporate Development and Technology Partnership at Wesley Clover; Marcos Cavaletti, senior advisor and head of the Ottawa site at Ericsson Canada Inc.
University of Ottawa’s Guy Levesque moves into the Board Chair role, the first academic chair for the Kanata North Business Association.