Alvinston is positioning itself to be a technology hub.
No, you didn’t read that wrong.
It might seem unlikely to promote a rural community with more stores boarded up on the main street than are open as a technology hub, but it is exactly what Brooke-Alvinston and Sarnia Lambton Economic Partnership are planning.
The general manager of SLEP, George Mallay, says Alvinston could be the perfect place for people looking for high speed Internet to run their business.
“If you look at Brooke Alvinston, you now can get …some of the fastest downloading speed in the county,” he says. Brooke-Telecom recently installed its fiber optic network in the village – the highest quality of Internet now available. And it’s less expensive – about a third of what someone would pay for the same speeds in nearby London.
“You have to tip your hat to companies like Brooke Telecom that have made this happen. They’re really investing in the future of the rural area and that’s a vote of confidence.”
Mallay says outsourcing call centres need to be made aware of the speeds and the pricing. “Generally people think those types of Internet speeds are not available in a rural area…only in large urban centres.
“Now you can get high speed Internet at a good price and you can also get a very affordable house to work from and it is not that far from larger centres like London and Sarnia.”
Mallay says promoting Alvinston as a high-speed, low cost to do business fits in with SLEPs push to draw more creative industry to the county.
“We’re trying to grow the creative industries and technology is critical in terms of people collaborating with others on line,” he says.
Mallay expects there will be a focus on people intensive industries, like call centres. “That’s why the affordability of housing, coupled with internet access is important…because affordability is certainly becoming a bigger problem in larger centres and not everyone wants to live in 600 square-feet in Toronto.”
Mallay says there are already many examples of people moving from Toronto to the Sarnia are to run their business and he believes Alvinston could be part of that migration. “Even for people in London, places like Brooke-Alvinston and Warwick-Watford, they provide an opportunity.”
That combination of inexpensive property and high speed Internet access have already been part of a recent success. A building owned by Brooke-Alvinston for the past 10 years was recently purchased by a Toronto man who hopes to operate the Alvinston Pharmacy on River Street. Mayor Don McGugan says the high speed Internet may have played part of the reason for the developer investing in the community.