In much the same way the new business incubator in Estevan will help small businesses get off the ground, the City of Estevan hopes they've found a way to get more local people who are proficient in technology to take the next step. The city's rural tech hub is in the works, with a variety of plans on the table.
"This is something that came through the economic development committee," said Estevan Mayor Roy Ludwig. "That was establishing a rural tech hub in Estevan, and basically making Estevan a centre of excellence for innovation as far as computer technology, even GPS, all of the advances that have been made there."
The idea behind the tech hub would be to take locals who are skilled in coding and programming, among other things, and give them training and education to keep up with rapidly changing technology. It would also help Estevan stay competitive as the economy grows more and more digital.
"Microsoft is going to help us out with the more popular courses," said Ludwig, "the more necessary courses that would be more in tune with the way things are going these days as far as computer skills to help upgrade people that are interested in that type of thing."
Southeast College would be part of the training process and some of their programs would reflect the shift. SaskInc and Microsoft would be on board as well. And the city has also talked to SaskTel about getting in on the latest in wifi.
"We've bee talking to SaskTel about 5G," Ludwig said. "I know everyone has heard of 5G. We'd like to be one of the first in the province to get 5G, which would complement having this rural tech hub. Basically, we're approaching it on many fronts."
Ludwig acknowledged that getting this project rolling would take some time, and there was no firm physical location for the incubator yet. But once it starts, he said Estevan could see an influx of people from larger communities not only coming to learn but coming to work here as their work could be done remotely from anywhere.
"The way thigns are going, we have an opportunity to get in on the cutting edge of this technology and start moving it forward," he said. "It's a great opportunity and we're really excited about it."
Ludwig added that at first some of the newly trained professionals could work out of City Hall or out of spare rooms at the business incubator until their facility is up and running.