Downtown centre to house Hard-Line's technology division: Sudbury tele-op company expands to second location.

AuthorKelly, Lindsay

With a few finishing touches to go, Hard-Line is ready to raise the curtain on its brand-new technology centre in downtown Sudbury.

As demand continues to grow for Hard-Line's array of tele-operation and remote-controlled vehicles, its Dowling facility, located about a 30-minute drive northwest of Sudbury, is bursting at the seams, and room for its 120 employees is at a premium.

Felicia Brunelle, Hard-Line's vice-president of business development, said an expansion had been in the planning stages for some time and, after a few years of searching, the company purchased the building at the corner of Elgin and Cedar streets a little under a year ago.

"Downtown is growing, and the downtown core is becoming something more exciting to be a part of," Brunelle said.

"They've done a lot of work around this neighbourhood to build things up and it's absolutely working, so we're really excited to be a part of it."

The city, its partners and private enterprise have taken impressive measures to transform the downtown into a contemporary hotspot, situating the McEwen School of Architecture in amongst student housing, trendy eateries and popular entertainment venues, all in an effort to attract a younger demographic of residents to the area.

Brunelle said that strategy is in line with the company's aim of recruiting young, tech-savvy professionals to its team, to help develop Hard-Line's next generation of mining vehicles.

"We're looking for gamers, we're looking for computer scientists, mathematicians, and, largely, what our team in the Dowling office has told us, is being in a central location is important," Brunelle said. "They want to be able to ride their bikes to work; there are restaurants downtown; the university is across the street from us."

Being situated in the downtown core will give Hard-Line an opportunity to showcase all that Sudbury has to offer, Brunelle said, and, potentially, entice talented tech specialists who might be looking for a slower-paced, more affordable way of life than that offered in other tech hubs like Toronto or Vancouver.

When it opens in early September, Hard-Line's entire technology division will move downtown, creating a centre for all the company's research and software development. A dozen staff members currently are included under the division, but Brunelle estimates that number will double within the next year.

"We definitely have the work," Brunelle said. "We just don't have the space."

At the new location, some...

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