By Michael Lynch
When Ken Owen hears people talking about being in on the ground floor of Internet technology he proudly states, “I was in at the sub-basement level.”
Owen was providing Internet services before they were invented. As a student at Lakehead University during the early 1990s, he was offering e-mail and news-group services. Owen, 33, owns and operates Norlink, a Web consulting company in Thunder Bay with 250 to 300 clients at any one time. His spacious office is almost completely void of paper and there are few personal items.
To illustrate Norlink’s services, Owen built a tool called thunderbayshops.com. It is a free service that receives an average of 30,000 hits a month, Owen says. More than 1,200 businesses list their services on the site, which requires little maintenance.
Norlink’s largest project is a $900,000-contract for a 12-hour online course to be offered in English and French through the Thunder Bay District Health Unit in partnership with TVOntario and Mr. Submarine. The province’s Life-Long Learning Challenge Fund is providing half the funding for the project.
The basic multimedia course is an interactive online training program in food handling for existing or potential entry-level employees in the food-service industry. With enhanced features for the visually impaired and deaf, the course leads to a basic food handling certification from the Thunder Bay District Health Unit.
“We take the course material and make it Web friendly,” Owen says.