The Collective offers opportunities, supports for young people

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Young adults target demographic of new city space

The Collective will officially arrive on the downtown St. Albert scene in just a few weeks.

While the name might sound a bit mysterious, the intent of The Collective is to have a hub for young people to access services, information, a meeting space and to explore entrepreneurial opportunities.

The Collective has been a long time coming. The idea has been germinating since city staff started doing research for St. Albert’s social master plan four to five years ago.

The space, roughly 2,500 square feet along St. Thomas Street, has a front and back section.

In the back will be City of St. Albert staff who are available to help young people find the services and information they need, be it help figuring out job search resources or finding mental health services.

“I think a big issue for young people … is finding services,” said Erik Archimowitz, 19. Archimowitz is an enthusiastic supporter who’s been involved in helping city staff get The Collective off the ground.

He explained there will be an intake person who, while not providing the specific services themselves, will be able to be a resource to help unravel how, where and what is needed to access services.

“So if you don’t know where to go, this person will be able to help you find the service that you need,” Archimowitz said.

Connie Smigielski, the manager for community strategy with the city’s Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) department, said the person will be able to help with whatever the presenting issue is, getting the inquiring individual information and even helping making calls.

The Collective is targeting people aged 15 to 24.

Ben Husing, the asset development co-ordinator with FCSS, said that age group was one where gaps in services were identified, especially once out of high school and away from the services offered there.

“It tends to drop off, and there’s an increase in some of the challenges that they’re facing after high school,” Husing said.

But The Collective offers more than just that service.

Samantha Killick, 19, is another enthusiastic supporter of the project. On top of being a student, she makes jewelry and has been looking for a store where she could place her product for awhile.

Enter what has been dubbed the marketplace, a section of the space that will be available for St. Albert and other regional young entrepreneurs and artists to apply to sell their wares.

“We hope to have different groups and sorts of products feature out front,” Killick said. “It will help to sustain what we’ve built here.”

A small percentage of the sales will go towards programming at The Collective, Smigielski said.

Husing added that in addition to offering the space to developing entrepreneurs, they hope to be able to match them with more established business mentors.

The other entrepreneurial part of The Collective will be about 300 square feet dedicated to incubating one business at a time.

The incubator space will be available for a six month to one year lease term for businesses looking to get started in St. Albert’s downtown core.

Those businesses don’t have to be run by young people, but they must be “young people friendly” and cool to be housed in a space meant to service that demographic.

“Any business could potentially apply,” Smigielski said. “It could be anything from a juicer to a deli to a shoe store, but the intent of it is to help grow the downtown.”

It would also help support The Collective through its rent payments.

Meeting space will also be available for groups related to the age group, as well as for special events, for example a young artist looking to hold an art show, or a meditation class.

“We also want to be open to ideas,” Husing said.

The Collective is many things – but it is not a hang out spot, Smigielski said.

If you’re there, there’s a reason, Husing said: shopping, services, programming, a meeting or more.

Archimowitz said he thinks young people did get a voice when it came to developing The Collective.

“Who better to ask than us? We’re the demographic,” he said.

Both he and Killick have volunteered within St. Albert, including with the Amplify Festival. The volunteer work and other pursuits led them to getting involved with The Collective.

Both said they think young people will come to The Collective.

“Every person I’ve told about it is like ‘Oh, that’s awesome,’” said Archimowitz.

Young people interested in selling their products in the marketplace can contact Smigielski or Husing at the city, though there will be an online application available soon.

If someone is interested in leasing the incubator space, they should contact Dawn Fedorvich at St. Albert’s economic development office, Husing said.

The Collective will host its launch on May 10, from 3 to 5 p.m. It is located at #100, 43 St. Thomas Street. People are welcome during the launch to come take a tour.

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