Last week I gave a presentation on where the HUB is at and where we are going. We are doing a few of these to let people know what we’re up to. If you think you have a good venue for us to present, drop Tim a line at email@example.com . If you want to get caught up yourself, you can see a video of the presentation here:
There were about 10 people, half of whom worked for government agencies, one from a chamber of commerce, one from NSCC and a couple of community change leaders. This was not a pitch for funding (we just don’t seem to fit most of the boxes), it was an exploration of what partnership might look like. There was a lot of curiosity in the room as we went round the table to do introductions. The presentation was well received and people were excited about what we were up to. We are now exploring partnerships with Mash Up Lab and Acadia Entrepreneurship Centre around events and talking to Economic Rural Development and Tourism about some specific support for the expansion. We also got some really interesting feedback which I’ll share here:
There’s a tension between us being a for profit business and an entity that has positive social and economic impact. People want to partner and invest because of the social impact but feel weird about it because it goes towards building our profit based business. We don’t have an answer but it keeps coming up from lots of different angles. All the money made in the business so far has been re-invested but we do feel like we are moving towards a model that will make us a modest income in exchange for all the work we have put in. We have felt since the beginning that if we are to set up a space for entrepreneurs it has to be entrepreneurial in nature - therefore we ruled out a non-profit or charitable route.
As we expand onto main street we need to think about how we engage the main stream - town council, chamber of commerce, tourism, festivals etc There was big call for us to turn up in places of local decision making and influence to share what we are up to and be a voice for change. We talk about this a lot and the only way it does not feel like a burden is when it is serving our members and our businesses. We have to figure out a way in which our participation in some of these bodies would be a benefit to our businesses and our members' businesses. We are scheduled to speak to Mahone Bay Town Council to share our direction, we are hosting a focus group with our members for the local Economic Development Committee and plan to present to the Chamber of Commerce in the coming months. We know that if we remain a silo of activity and learning we are part of the problem - so we have to figure it out.
If we are modelling being progressive - how is that shown in our energy use and governing structure? Great feedback on how our energy sources could be more green, how we could shift our governance towards a more participatory or co-operative model. There is lots to explore here and we are excited to do it. The main thing we need is time and capacity to figure these things out. We do tend to follow the simplest route available because all three of us are so busy with families and our already existing businesses.
It felt like a great conversation and has spurred me on to want to do more. Check out the video if you want some more details on what we’re up to. We welcome your opinion on where we are going if you’re ready to act on it!