District of Houston joining discussion on Innovation Centre

The Babine Lake Community Forest Society is looking to form a regional centre for people to explore options for starting up new business.

The District of Houston is joining a discussion about forming a regional centre for people to explore options for starting up new business.

Frederick Clarke, General Manager of the Babine Lake Community Forest Society, talked to council at a recent meeting about their plans for a Regional Innovation Centre.

“People often have the courage to go into business, but they didn’t have the support to do it,” Clarke said.

The northern rural communities usually just have one or two big employers, and have only big industry and retail, but no small manufacturing sector, he said.

“What we want to do is try to develop new, small innovative businesses so that we have a secondary and tertiary line of business.”

Clarke says they first want to do a survey in the region of manufacturing businesses, successes and failures.

Then they want to form an Innovation Centre, possibly at the old Topley school, for people to come with ideas or products and meet mentors with knowledge about sales, processes involved in starting business and time management.

They want to form a network of small groups such as schools, to get people into the culture of thinking about innovation and problem solving and looking for ways to turn things into business.

Babine Community Forest would put all their profits into this project, Clarke said.

Asked whether that funding would cover the whole project, Clarke said no.

“It has to be a regional effort,” he said.

He added that the Granisle Park cost $600,000 for 350 people, so if the regional district and its 38,000 people lobbied for funding, it could become a high government priority.

Councillor Kyle Thomson agreed to attend a foundational meeting to discuss the plans.