New initiative aiming to build strong tech industry in Sarnia

Troy Shantz

A grassroots group of self-described “nerds” says the city is primed to build and sustain a tech industry.

Sarnia Tech Community formed this summer with the purpose of transforming the city into a hub of technology and innovation, said member Jon Ferwerda.

It came together this summer, meets twice monthly and held its kickoff event on the rooftop of the Kenwick Place building, a symbolic setting overlooking the city.

“The goal is to bring everyone in the community together … and move forward as one, in one direction that benefits the city, the businesses, the students, the youth, and the community at large,” said member Jasmyn Newton.

“We all live in Sarnia-Lambton and we believe this is an incredible place to be. We have a highly motivated community.”

Lewis Menelaws, another members, said Sarnia Tech Community is bringing together “all the brightest tech minds in the same room” to discuss job opportunities, side projects and other tech-related issues.

Newton and Menelaws, both Lambton College computer programming grads, said it was created because the community’s techies are currently disconnected for the most part.

“There’s opportunity for students to meet future employers, for business owners to meet one another, for events to be shared, and for information to be spread throughout the community.” Newton said.

The group has over 100 followers on Facebook, and Ferwerda, Newton and Menelaws collectively made a presentation to council recently, seeking support from city staff, and possibly meeting space.

Coun. Andy Bruziewicz has attended some of the early meetings and said the initiative is valuable addition to the city.

“I think (the group) is the sunshine on the clouds that we’ve had, and you’re going to lift this community,” he told the trio.