Eastern-Strait Regional Enterprise Network CEO John Beaton (standing) addresses the crowd at the launch of the Economic Development Investment Mapper on Monday in Sherbrooke.

ANTIGONISH: A new on-line tool will make it easier for people to find information on doing business in the Strait region.

On January 22, the Eastern Strait Regional Enterprise Network (ESREN) celebrated the launch of their Economic Development Investment Mapper (EDIM).

“Most Regional Enterprise Networks are taking on some form of land asset database or investment database, and the reason for that is we’re finding that it’s taking too long to respond to investment inquiries,” ESREN CEO John Beaton told The Reporter last week.

Beaton said the ESREN office receives frequent inquiries from companies and individuals searching for a variety of information on the region. This information may include the availability of real estate, the location of services like railroads and schools, as well as the accessibility of broadband and cell service. Many of these inquiries come from potential investors who are interested in setting up business operations in the area. Beaton says gathering all of the necessary information can be time consuming and causes investors to wait for the data they need.

“Our target was to try and develop a program or solution that would allow us to respond quickly to those inquiries as they come in so that we’re not losing them to other areas,” said Beaton.

An Investment Web Map Viewer is a tool used to represent many different types of economic development data spatially.

ESREN’s new database allows users to access this information on-line in one place. The program also includes other information that would be pertinent to industry, such as forestry and agricultural data, and information on transportation. Users can view the information in a user-friendly map format.

“It includes all the different layers of information that’s prudent for investors to know,” said Beaton.

Beaton said that in an area with little extra money to put into direct foreign investment attraction, the database is one way the Strait region can help facilitate new business. He added that ESREN will continue to update information and will look for ways to make the program more relevant and useful.

In addition to making information easier to access, Beaton says the database has a variety of other benefits.

“[The user] may discover new assets in the region which they weren’t even looking for,” said Beaton.

“There will also be a business directory on there too, where we can showcase many of our local businesses.”

Beaton said ESREN has worked with Bluejack Consulting Inc. since last May to develop the database. Chris Turner, president and co-owner of Bluejack Consulting says the program is best described as an interactive Web map viewer for investors. He said that providing accessible data is crucial to demonstrating the Strait area is open for business.

“Having data organized…. shows to the investors what their future is going to be like working with you,” said Turner.

Turner also believes the user-friendly aspect of the program will make it an attractive tool for a variety of users, including tourists.

“It will be there for the public to use and I think you will find that there will be more than just investors using it,” said Turner. “We’ve developed a user guide as well that is going to be online with the system that explains exactly how to use the tool.”

The investment database can be accessed by the public free of charge at: esren.ca.

Chris Turner (standing), president of Bluejack Consulting Inc. built the EDIM with his team.