The owner of a vacant factory in Souris has come up with an idea he hopes will create more jobs in the area.
Reg Chapman will hand over the keys to the building for only a loonie in the first year. The catch is whoever takes him up on the offer has to create local jobs and they have to stick around for a minimum of three years.
At a combined 7,000 square feet of space, that's a savings of $30,000.
Chapman grew up in Souris. He bought the old Souris Hospital in 1988 and turned it into a community care facility that ran for close to 12 years.
In 1995, Chapman sold his insulation company after operating it for 25 years and moved from Hunter River back to Souris.
"I bought the Souris Industrial Park which was supposed to be my retirement package and it's been an uphill struggle ever since,'' Chapman said in an interview.
He had a potential client ready to take over half the building but the deal fell through.
Interest is starting to pick up again. Chapman has taken representatives from four different companies on a tour of the old factory in Souris, once home to Buttercup Dairy. Some of the interest has come from Ottawa and Quebec.
"I had an email this morning from someone saying he was wanting to come to move here because Souris has an open port. I've had some feelers (but) no firm offers.''
Chapman said one potential client says they'd hire seven people initially; more if the business expands off Island.
"That's seven more than was employed today.''
He said the space is available for $1 for the first year but he wants commitment in return.
"It will be a minimum three-year lease, preferably a five-year lease and (information as to) the number of employees they're going to (hire).''
Chapman estimates he has spent close to $3 million in Souris over the last 25 years and believes the community can succeed.
"You have to be optimistic if you're going to make it work. The Souris area is hurting really bad. Ocean Choice closed and it put a lot of people out of work. It's hurting. The space is there, why not use it?''
The old dairy isn't the only vacant space in Souris. The Ocean Choice fish plant that Chapman mentioned also sits empty.