NORTHUMBERLAND — Entrepreneurs in Northumberland County now have a new creative and modern co-working space where they can connect, grow and prosper.
The Factory, a mixed use co-working location at 600 William St. in Cobourg, opened its doors to the public on Nov. 2 and marks a milestone expansion of services for Northumberland County’s Business and Entrepreneurship Centre (BECN).
An initiative of the County of Northumberland’s economic development department and several community partners, the Factory features more than 1,000 square feet of space that has been converted to support work-at-home professionals, independent contractors and people who may work in relative isolation.
Jade Calver, the owner and CEO of Calver and Associates Canadian Immigration Services, plans to use the space since she does not have an office in the area.
“It’s a cool way to connect with other entrepreneurs and self-employed people,” she said. “I think it’s the way more work spaces are moving in terms of being interconnected and open spaces.”
For Molly Klintworth, the owner of Pink Empowerment, a personal training service for female cancer survivors, the co-working environment is an opportunity to mingle with other business people.
“I like to have an initial meeting with all of my clients just so they can get to know me ... so having this space that I can bring them to as an office will really make me more credible in that sphere,” she said. “I am really excited to use it.”
While Klintworth has benefited from youth entrepreneur programs offered by the county, and plans to access more services, Calver said the mentorship she received through the centre’s Starter Company program helped her start on the right track.
“I originally launched in Cobourg in November 2015 but now I have offices in Peterborough and Oshawa, which is my main office,” she added.
The Starter Company program is an opportunity for eligible youth to be provided with business skills development, training, advice and mentoring.
After going away to university, Calver said she made a conscious decision to come back and start her business in Northumberland County.
“It’s the place that supported me growing up, so now I’m here helping it grow economically and helping families grow as they bring relatives in from elsewhere too,” Calver said, adding that she has 60 active clients currently. “Things are going better than ever.”
Also planning to access the “network of like-minded professionals” is Nicole Beatty, the owner of NicBea and Co., a business offering advisory services and resource development for the nonprofit sector.
“As a social entrepreneur who has worked in co-working spaces and urban cities, it’s really great to see that level of innovation come to Cobourg,” she said.
According to Rob Day, the manager of the BECN who spearheaded the project, the Factory will be a members-only community of local professionals, featuring 30 individual spaces and 14 seasonal spaces.
There are 21 members already signed up and he predicts that 2018 membership will grow to include 40 professionals.
“It has been designed as a very inviting, very interesting and very motivating place for people to come in and actually work from,” he said. “We hear from a lot of people who work from home or work independently, that they just don’t have the opportunity to meet with people, collaborate and get inspired.”
The idea behind the space is that, by giving entrepreneurs more access to the centre’s staff, those staff members can hopefully help them grow and expand their businesses.
“Ours is a co-working space which is different than incubators and accelerators,” Day said. “This is more of an independent location where people come in on a part-time basis.”