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ECONOMIC GROWTH Kanata North BIA boss Jenna Sudds bidding organization adieu BY CRAIG LORD craig@obj.ca

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MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2017

he person at the heart of the Kanata North Business Association since its launch four years ago is leaving to pursue a new opportunity. Jenna Sudds announced to friends and colleagues in a social media post late last month that she will be stepping down as executive director of the Kanata North BIA. She wrote that she’ll be building a new organization “that will help business leaders across the country address the rapid pace of digital transformation and the challenges that this presents to Canadian business.” Ms. Sudds told OBJ she can’t give any more details right now, but she talked about her bittersweet feelings leaving the organization she helped to launch. “The BIA, I really considered it my startup,” she said. Before the organization was formed

in 2013, Ms. Sudds was a public servant, working as an economist for the federal government. She had never formally worked in the tech industry, but nonetheless found herself curious when she would drive by the technology park every day on her commute to work. When she read in a local newspaper about the formation of a Kanata North BIA, she decided it was time for a change of pace. “I had never done anything like this before,” she said. “It was so uncomfortable that it was awesome.” Ms. Sudds said that from the outset, she knew the BIA would be a unique beast. The memberships of most BIAs in Ottawa are made up of retail shops and restaurants. Kanata North’s members are largely hightech firms, with little need for festivals or marketing campaigns to attract foot traffic to the area. “It was very apparent that the programs and initiatives that you would put into place

Kanata North BIA’s Jenna Sudds. FILE PHOTO

for a typical BIA weren’t what were needed in this circumstance,” she said. Instead, she sought out to tell the stories of Kanata firms, celebrating their successes and connecting them to one another. Her goal, she said, was to build a community that would make the more than 20,000 employees who work in the area happy to come to work, turning them into

ambassadors for Kanata North. “Personally, I am so thrilled to have been able to create that and be part of that.” The BIA’s departure from the retailand-dining norms has caught on, with the Kanata Central BIA officially forming earlier this year. Ms. Sudds was on hand to provide input at meetings considering how nontraditional areas can benefit from a BIA. Observers have held the Kanata North BIA as an example of a successful economic development organization and a booster to its tech community. It’s currently the city’s third-largest BIA, behind the ByWard Market and Downtown Rideau organizations, with 558 members. Her tenure as executive director included many gratifying projects, but Ms. Sudds said there are a few “gold stars” that she looks back on with particular pride. One of the earliest and most important projects, she said, was the economic impact study the organization undertook. The study told the organization and the

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Ottawa Business Journal September 11, 2017  

Local Ottawa business news, start ups, technology, real estate, marketing, tourism, entrepreneurship, local commentary, reader comments, peo...

Ottawa Business Journal September 11, 2017  

Local Ottawa business news, start ups, technology, real estate, marketing, tourism, entrepreneurship, local commentary, reader comments, peo...