Written By: Monday, October 16th 2017

Grey County is looking at turning an empty elementary school in Owen Sound into a regional skills training, trades, and innovation centre.

The former Sydenham School that sits next from Georgian College was closed last year following an accommodation review by the Bluewater District School Board.

After discussing the result of an employer survey with the Four Market Planning Labour Board, it was discovered employers are having a hard time finding qualified workers.

The county has decided to take matters into their own hands and are working in collaboration with Georgian College, the Bluewater District School Board and the Bruce Grey Catholic School Board to submit a proposal to the province’s Surplus Property Transition Initiative.

The initiative is a government program that helps organizations and groups hold publicly owned properties, such as schools, hospitals or other buildings that are no longer in use or have been deemed surplus, for up to 18 months.

Bluewater has yet to declare Sydenham Community School surplus, but have agreed to work with the county.

Manager of Economic Development Savanna Myers says they have been in contact with over 60 stakeholders in Grey County from employers to community organizations and have found out there is a real appetite for this kind of community hub.

She says the centre would look at providing training pathways that lead to regional employment while also supporting regional econmoic development by ensuring the skills training is available locally.

Grey County will be putting aside $100,000 in the 2018 budget should they be approved by the provincial government to come up with a business plan.

Officials will have 18 months to secure funding as well.

The application was due on Monday and the county is expected to find out by November 30th.