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County open for business with $10 million investment in tech start ups

Angela Miller, PELA CFDC board chairperson; Mauro Lollo, CEO First Stone Venture Partners; Gary Goodyear, Minister of State FedDev Ontario; Daryl Kramp, Prince Edward-Hastings MP and Craig Desjardins, PELA CFDC executive director.

Angela Miller, PELA CFDC board chairperson; Mauro Lollo, CEO First Stone Venture Partners; Gary Goodyear, Minister of State FedDev Ontario; Daryl Kramp, Prince Edward-Hastings MP and Craig Desjardins, PELA CFDC executive director.

A $10 million public-private investment announced Thursday morning is expected to create jobs and develop the “knowledge-based economy” through early stage technology companies and enterprises.

The Prince Edward Lennox and Addington Community Futures Development Corporation (PELA CFDC) will establish the early stage technology fund with $5 million in federal funding and $5 million in private funding.

“This project brings together the skills, knowledge and financial capital of both the private and public sector to address a gap in the market of early stage equity investment,” said Craig Desjardins, executive director PELA CFDC.

Desjardins notes the project, which has taken about three years to come to fruition, is to help develop a “technology cluster” in the region to help diversify the rural economy, and support the re-attraction of youth to the community by providing higher wage, full-time employment opportunities.

“We will be able to invest $400,000 – $500,000 in a young company and that’s a huge advantage for us,” he said. “It’s difficult to find funding in that range and I would think we are going to attract some very bright and innovative people.”

Mauro Lollo, First Stone CEO

Mauro Lollo, First Stone CEO

Private sector partner Mauro Lollo, tech futurist, advisor and CEO with First Stone Venture Partners, in Picton, said the partners’ investment of private capital also comes with mentoring and support services.

“This is a stupendous day, bringing together both public and private sector in a way that we don’t believe has actually been done in this country in the past,” said Lollo. “Over the next two years we will fund up to 25 investments in technology focus start-ups, initially based here in the Innovation Centre in Picton, and ideally branching out to other communities as time goes on.”

Lollio said it is hoped the combined efforts of the partnership with FedDev will set an example for the rest of the county on how Canadians can innovate, compete and succeed in the knowledge-based economy of the 21st century.

“This funding match was championed by MP Daryl Kramp and Minister Goodyear who have been entrepreneurs in their careers and know the blood, sweat and tears that has to go into doing this kind of thing and making it work. Funding is just one part of the formula. It’s hard work thereafter, and smart work putting it all together.”

Daryl Kramp, MP for Prince Edward Hastings made the announcement with Gary Goodyear, Minister of State for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev) before a gathering of business people at Huff Estate Winery. The federal money was contributed through FedDev Ontario’s Investing in Regional Diversification initiative.

The investment, said Kramp, “will further position PELA CFDC as an innovator in advancing economic growth and diversification in rural communities.

“This is a region with a great deal of talent and potential, and we are in the business of supporting that potential in order to benefit individuals and communities all over southern Ontario,” said Kramp. “It is also anticipated that this project will create up to 155 full-time equivalent jobs and maintain 95 full-time equivalent jobs during the project.”

PELA CFDC, located in the Edward Building in Picton, delivers a wide variety of programs and services designed to support economic development and small business growth.

“The entrepreneurial eco-system created over the past few years here in Prince Edward and Lennox and Addington counties includes physical incubation space, human capital resources and links to post secondary education institutions,” added Desjardins.

PELA CCFDC board chairman Angela Miller noted the investment shows a trust in PELA and a faith in the people in the region.

“The results of the joint investments in early stage businesses by the angel fund “First Stone” and the federal government will have a profound impact on our community in terms of jobs and economic spin-offs to further diversify our economic base.”

“Our government’s top priority remains creating jobs and opportunities for Canadians,” said Goodyear. “Today’s announcement does just that by providing early-stage businesses with capital which will grow and diversify the economy.”

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