CORNWALL, Ontario – Bourgon Construction is conducting a feasibility study to explore whether a business and community hub on the corner of Pitt and Second Streets can meet the needs of select businesses and organizations in the area.
Community hubs play a critical role in building economic and social cohesion in communities, as highlighted in the “Community Hubs in Ontario: A Strategic Framework & Action Plan” report recently released by the Ontario government.
A hub can anchor organizations together and its model is most attractive for small start-ups, professionals, charities, not-for-profit organizations and other community and service groups who have specific space needs but need to carefully manage costs.
The First On Second model would feature a fully-accessible building with shared facilities and services, allowing users to lease only the space they need and provide an efficient way to share amenities and equipment used less than full-time.
The study is in its initial stages and will be carried out this summer.
Alyssa Blais, the former executive director of the Agapè Centre, has been hired by Bourgon to oversee the work.
“We want to create spaces designed for the community that are welcoming and inclusive,” said Blais. “Having a broad range of partners and services from a variety of sectors of the economy under one roof can transform the way services are delivered and received.”
Work to clean up the site is underway and new signs will identify the First On Second project.
“We are aiming to create a new kind of shared facility that will strike a balance between sustainable rents and inspiring spaces, appropriate for both the energy level we need from start-ups to move our economy forward and for all the essential services our local organizations provide the community,” said Chris Markell, who plans to set-up a new non-profit organization to manage the project if the feasibility study concludes positively.
Initial feedback from potential participants has been overwhelmingly positive. Continued consultation with NPOs, charities, small business owners and start-ups will be ongoing.