The Kanata North Business Association is searching for a new leader to guide the organization through a transition that will see mixed-use residential complexes and other new infrastructure added to the tech hub over the next decade.
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The Kanata North Business Association is searching for a new leader to guide the organization through a transition that will see mixed-use residential complexes and other new infrastructure added to the tech hub over the next decade. The KNBA began searching for a new executive director this week after interim leader Amanda Gordon left to take on a new role as chief talent officer at real estate developer CLV Group. Gordon was filling in for former executive director Jamie Petten, who stepped down 18 months ago for personal reasons and recently told the organization she would not be returning. KNBA chair Guy Levesque, who is serving as de facto ED until a replacement is named, told Techopia this week a new hire will likely be in place by late March or early April. He said the organization wanted to wait until its new five-year strategic plan was completed before choosing the person who will oversee its implementation. The recently completed plan is scheduled to be released in late January. Levesque wouldn’t reveal any specifics about the KNBA’s next long-term organizational blueprint except to say it will focus on three major themes: talent, technology and community. “We want to make sure that we have an executive director that has a strong vision that aligns with those three pillars,” he said while praising Petten for her “visionary leadership” in her three-plus years at the helm. The search for a new boss comes at a pivotal time for the group that represents more than 540 businesses in the west-end technology park, which bills itself as the country’s largest with more than 33,000 workers. In 2021, Kanata North was designated as a “special economic district” in the city’s new Official Plan. That loosened zoning restrictions on what could be built in the area, which is currently dominated by office buildings. Since then, two of the largest corporations with operations in Kanata North – Nokia and Ericsson – have announced plans to dramatically expand their footprints in the tech park. Nokia plans to break ground this spring on a project that will see the telecom giant tear down its existing campus and replace it with a new 500,000-square-foot office complex, including about 35,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial and retail space, and as many as 11 residential highrises containing up to 1,900 units. Ericsson, meanwhile, unveiled plans last year to partner with the federal government to expand its Kanata North R&D facility, which is already its largest in North America. Levesque said those announcements, along with the opening two years ago of the Hub350 networking and co-working facility, are just the beginning of a transformation that will one day see thousands of people living, working, shopping and spending leisure time in the community. “In 10 years, the park will hardly be recognizable for those who have been there for the last 30 or 40 years,” he said. “There's a lot of momentum in the park, and we’re going to make sure that we deliver on capitalizing on the moment. We’ve got a lot of optimism.” Still, the KNBA isn’t the only high-profile local business organization that’s looking for someone new at the top. Invest Ottawa is scouring the market for a CEO to replace Michael Tremblay, who departed the economic development agency at the end of November to join Kanata-based Calian Group. Meanwhile, the Ottawa Coalition of Business Improvement Areas is also looking for a new executive director after Michelle Groulx, who held the job for the last three years, left earlier this month to become president of engineering firm MBC Group. Levesque said he’s confident there will be no shortage of qualified candidates vying for the KNBA job. “There are in Ottawa a large number of incredible technology leaders and business leaders who could do that role exceptionally well,” he said. “We certainly have our eyes on superstars who could fill the role extremely well.”