Challenge: Finding the right business fit for an empty building
Solution: Looking forward – and looking back
In the 1930s, the federal Department of Fisheries (as it was then known) operated a thriving oyster hatchery in Ellerslie, PEI. In the decades that followed, however, the marine centre fell into disrepair and the hatchery dried up.
In 2014, nearby Lennox Island First Nation’s community economic development organization began to look at how the old building could be used to enhance the local economy and provide employment opportunities. Looking ahead profitably meant looking back to the past.
“Why re-invent the wheel?” says Mike Randall, executive director of the Lennox Island Development Corporation. “It was a perfect oyster hatchery in the beginning.”
And now it is again. After nine months restoring the building – “There were dilapidated walls and ceilings. There was mold. There were leaks,” notes Mike – the first shellfish hatchery on PEI is now successfully up and running. The hatchery, which grows and sells seed for the Island's public oyster beds and oyster growers, currently employs five people and has developed strong market demand for their spawn, primarily oysters. “We have the perfect temperature, the perfect room, the perfect ambiance,” says Mike.
The high-quality product has translated into a marine centre that is full and growing beyond capacity, he adds. “It took three years to get here, but it was important not to rush in. We took our time.”
The patient approach has paid off. Plans are in the works to expand and hire more staff. “We’ve already surpassed our benchmarks and exceeded our sales for next year,” Mike notes.
He recommends the sure-but-steady approach to growing an enterprise. “You can’t rush a business. Create a roadmap of where you want to be and stay on course. There will be detours, but you need a clear destination.”
That destination will be identified and shaped by your business plan, but that plan needs to be flexible, stresses Mike. “Your business plan is supposed to be your life blood. It needs to grow with you.”
Partners, such as the Government of Canada, are helping organizations like the Lennox Island Development Corporation build, grow, and scale their business. With support from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), the government recently invested over $150,000 to establish a shellfish hatcher, providing assistance with renovations to the building, purchase of specialized equipment and technical expertise.
The Lennox Island Development Corporation is a prime example of how innovation and resourcefulness fuel Atlantic Canada’s economy, at home and beyond.
Do you have a business concept? Do you have an innovative idea to improve or grow your business? For more information on programs and services available to businesses in Atlantic Canada call 1-800-561-7862 or go to canada.ca/acoa.