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The King of Kitsault

November 2007
The King of Kitsault

Forget about those desi mayors who are making news in North America. Here comes Krishnan Suthanthiran. Who? He is the Indian American who owns an entire town in Canada. Two years ago, this media-shy entrepreneur bought Kitsault for $7 million even before seeing it. He still owns the town, located in scenic yet frigid northwestern British Columbia, and now there are grand—some would say grandiose—plans to turn it into a state-of the-art center where artists, writers and scientists, along with movers and shakers in the business and political worlds, can have an extended powwow. So how viable is the project? There may be skeptics, but this enigmatic bachelor, who has come a long way from his humble origins in Tamil Nadu, is apparently not afraid of taking on daunting challenges.

A former engineer, the Virginia-based Suthanthiran made his millions in real estate and by developing and selling medical devices. His company manufactures catheters that are used in the radiation treatment of cancer patients. So what's new about this news? Suthanthiran has spent $3 million more since 2005 on his abandoned property, and he plans to invest another $10 million over the next two years. His hope is not just to turn the town into a rural retreat for heavyweight thinkers; he also wants to make it attractive for film shooting and eco-tourism.

"The town was built in the late 1970s complete with a shopping mall, library, post office and pub," notes The Province in Canada. "When molybdenum prices plunged in 1982, the mine shut down and its residents vacated." The paper adds that Suthanthiran, having recently bought a TV production company in Vancouver, intends to host a yearly Mahatma Gandhi film and television festival in Kitsault. He may be a low-key businessman with a modest lifestyle, but nobody can accuse him of harboring modest ambitions.

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