The Communitech Hub’s global outlook and collaborative work environment is an economic example for the rest of Ontario, Premier Kathleen Wynne said Friday, after her first official visit to the facility.

“The folks here are running companies and creating companies that have clients all over the world, and we can’t think in terms of just the United States or our other provinces,” Wynne told reporters after meeting local business leaders and touring the busy digital media commercialization hub.

“We have to think about the world and I think that the people here are doing that, and they can lead the way,” she said. “And that’s a principle that we need to take around the province.”

Wynne frequently broke into smiles as she moved through Communitech’s space in the former Lang Tannery in downtown Kitchener, stopping to chat at length with some of the 100 startup entrepreneurs, large-company executives and university officials who inhabit its 44,000 square feet.

She used the word “fantastic” several times as she heard about how everyone from large companies like Canadian Tire to small, high-potential ones like Thalmic Labs in the University of Waterloo’s VeloCity Garage are tapping into the Communitech network to innovate, create jobs and build the economy.

“It’s quite obvious here that the understanding of innovation and the ability to foster new ideas is integral to the Kitchener-Waterloo region,” she said. “I think one of the really interesting aspects of this is the ecosystem notion, that having people interacting with each other in this space actually fosters the kind of ideas and innovation that we need in order to grow the economy.”

The Hub, as the Premier saw, exemplifies the ecosystem approach by bringing people from various sectors together in open, accessible workspaces that encourage spontaneous creativity around how to build knowledge-based companies.

“Making sure we’ve got connectivity between education institutions, the private sector, government and labour, and that we’re cross-germinating in terms of those ideas, [is] one of the principles that underlies a place like this; people need to be talking to each other; they need to be in connection with each other,” she said.

During a one-hour rountable with tech-sector leaders, “We had a really fabulous conversation about the co-location of businesses, startups; what government’s role can be in supporting the kind of innovation that is happening here,” Wynne said.

During the same meeting, the Premier also heard about the need for connectivity of another kind – improved intercity transportation infrastructure – which technology companies see as crucial to competing for the most talented workers.

“The conversation this morning focused to a large extent around how do we have a train in place that’s going to allow people to move in and out of the region, into the (Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area) and back, on a daily basis throughout the whole day,” she said. “Full-day, two-way train service is something that is really important to this community.”

As a former transportation minister who helped bring GO train service to Kitchener, Wynne is familiar with local concerns about highway gridlock and the need to find more-sustainable ways to move people between cities.

The Premier, who was accompanied by Kitchener-Centre MPP John Milloy and Eric Hoskins, Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Employment, has been holding “jobs roundtables” across the province.

After she left the Hub on Friday, she toured the Institute for Quantum Computing in Waterloo with Mike Lazaridis, and was due to visit a few other locations.