By Vivian Collings
The Haliburton County Development Corporation’s (HCDC) renewed Incubator space is giving the necessary tools and support to fledgling local businesses so they can soar to success.
HCDC recently refurbished their Creative Business Incubator space for the summer with ideas from Haliburton School of Art + Design’s Integrated Design class.
The Business Incubator is a rentable space at 710 Mountain Street in Haliburton, which provides access to fibre optic broadband WiFi service for entrepreneurs in Haliburton County and features both a co-working space with new furniture and a meeting room.
The space’s re-imagination was part of a class project undertaken by the integrated design class, and the concept was made real when HCDC hired integrated design student Kat Schouten as incubator coordinator through funding provided by EcoCanada.
“Right now, we know that there are a lot of folks who need more consistent and reliable access to the internet, both as employees and business owners. In addition, this space is helping bring remote workers together. While they co-work, they can meet others that they wouldn’t normally cross paths with in their day to day,” Schouten said.
The exterior of the building received a fresh coat of paint while the interior was refurbished with new furniture.
“One of our major goals this summer was to make the exterior of the building feel refreshed, eye-catching, and welcoming to folks who want to come to the incubator to co-work or learn more about starting a business,” Schouten said.
The main goal of the rejuvenation of the Business Incubator is to encourage the community to use the space and to allow the Incubator to help businesses grow and thrive.
HCDC also plans to develop programming to help foster new businesses.
“We know that starting a business is hard, and in this phase of the pandemic, we want to make sure that we are making the right decisions rooted in the needs of folks directly in Haliburton County,” Schouten said.
HCDC has been working collaboratively on this project with both the Haliburton Highlands Chamber of Commerce and the County Economic Team. So far, bookings have been successful.
“This summer, folks who have rented the meeting room have been very excited for the opportunity to join video calls, host in-person meetings, and use the internet for important Zoom presentations,” Schouten said.
They are excited to now be welcoming rentals of the co-working space.
HCDC hopes that the Incubator space will be able to help local businesses long into the future.
“In the long run, we want the Incubator to be the go-to place for new entrepreneurs to launch their business in Haliburton County with both access to affordable space and access to business guidance customized to local entrepreneurs.”
Schouten is excited to find more community partners to add some art pieces to the walls and bring colour to the space.
On June 27, a Mix it Up Monday Mixer was held at the Business Incubator for people in Haliburton County who work from home to have a chance to mingle with each other and visit the space.
At the event, executive director of HCDC Patti Tallman thanked the large crowd for attending.
She said, “We have had the Incubator since 2010, and during COVID, it sort of went to sleep. Heather [Reid] has taken it upon herself, along with Kat, to revitalize it and bring it back to life and create some more synergies in here, see what we can do, meet people, and bring entrepreneurial benefits to yourselves as well as the community.”
For more information about the Haliburton Creative Business Incubator and how to book the space, visit www.haliburtoncdc.ca/business-incubator/.
HCDC program and operations coordinator Heather Reid concluded the event by explaining her excitement for the revamp of the Business Incubator.
“This summer is really about animating the space and being an outreach to the community. We’ve sort of taken a guess that a co-working space, a meeting space, and really focusing on the access to high-speed [internet] for the summer would attract users. The second half is for Kat to be getting out and talking to local businesses to find out what they are looking for. It’s been really exciting over the last few months to coordinate what we have to offer.”