NABI co-working space 'shovel-ready'
Incubator awaiting announcement by province
Wednesday, Jan 11, 2017 06:00 am
The Northern Alberta Business Incubator unveiled plans for a co-working space in Campbell Park Monday.
The space is intended to create approximately 100 new jobs over the next two years and would be the first of its kind in St. Albert.
The NABI Commons is a shared workspace where entrepreneurs can mingle and bounce ideas off each other, as well as access resources and professional advice. It’s a “collision zone” geared towards early-stage companies and underemployed or unemployed graduates and oilfield workers who want to explore entrepreneurship as an income alternative.
“Our focus is on folks who are unemployed and maybe want to take a shot at creating their own job. We don’t have a place to do that in a dynamic way here,” said Schwanbeck. “We want to create a space that’s comfortable and welcoming.”
NABI’s current two facilities are operating at full capacity. The new co-working space will not only allow them to expand their client base, but to offer more flexible services.
The NABI Commons will act as a storefront location, where budding entrepreneurs can walk in and easily access a business coach, work on a business plan and get an idea assessed.
NABI plans to impact 1,000 entrepreneurs and start-ups, secure innovation funding for 50 companies and create 100 new jobs over the next two years through this new location.
Since the co-working space will be located off the Anthony Henday in Campbell Park, Schwanbeck believes it will attract entrepreneurs and start-ups from Edmonton’s outlying communities, who might find it difficult to access downtown resources.
NABI’s proposal, presented to council on Monday, is part of a larger regional effort to support entrepreneurship. Partnering with TEC Edmonton, Startup Edmonton and NAIT, the group collectively requested $2.5 million in funding through the province’s new Alberta Entrepreneurship Incubator program.
The program, announced April 11, 2016 by Minister of Economic Development and Trade Deron Bilous, is intended to support business startups, entrepreneur development, job creation and incubation services for the growth of Alberta companies.
Together, the four Edmonton organizations hope to set up two new locations for individuals to access the Edmonton region’s innovation programs (including the NABI Commons), affect 5,700 participants, create 500 new jobs and generate $30 million in new investment for entrepreneurs and startups.
The Rutherford Corner location, set up on the ground floor of the Enterprise Building downtown is nearly complete.
The NABI Commons project is “shovel ready” and could be launched as early as the end of January. NABI is currently awaiting the formal announcement of the program by the provincial government before undertaking renovations of the old D’arcy’s Meats shop, where the co-working space will be located.
Schwanbeck is eager to get the project underway.
“We’re into our third year of low oil prices, and I don’t think that’s going to change,” he said. “We’re still running at seven per cent unemployment and my fear is that unless people start looking quickly at alternatives ... before the unemployment benefits run out.”
NABI is expected to receive $350,000 from the province through the Alberta Entrepreneurship Innovation program to support the operation of the space. This funding will assist in the hiring of a full-time business coach and a part-time receptionist for two years.
The $50,000 awarded Monday by the city will cover the costs of renovations. The funds were taken out of the Outside Agency Capital Reserve – Business Incubation Fund set aside for NABI in 2012. NABI is also contributing to the $450,000 project.
The vacated space, located at 40 Chisholm Avenue in Campbell Park, measures 1,760 square-feet and is easily accessible from the Anthony Henday. It will house a co-working space, meeting room, common area and cubicles.
Councillors were excited by Schwanbeck’s proposal and eager to see it implemented.
“It looks like a great program,” said Coun. Cam MacKay. “If the numbers are anywhere close, it will be some much needed relief to many people here in St. Albert who have lost their jobs. It looks like where the future is going.”
The co-working space will be the first of its kind in St. Albert.
The city’s draft incubation strategy explores the option of a centre of excellence, which would act as a collaborative space, as well as a telecommuting office.
Schwanbeck said the NABI Commons would be an excellent opportunity to try out these ideas and see if they’re successful.