New incubation space for social, equity and environmental start-ups proposed for former bank building a few doors down from Momentum Developments’ new condo project, Q Condos.
A first-of-its-kind social entrepreneurship hub in Waterloo Region is set to become a reality in Downtown Kitchener. If approved by Kitchener City Council, 2 King St. W. will be transformed into an interim incubation space for entrepreneurs and start-ups focused on social and environmental innovation and solving local and global issues. The new space would welcome a variety of social and environmental entrepreneurs including underrepresented groups and equity-deserving entrepreneurs.
“There’s a saying that the greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it,” said Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic, “Cities like Kitchener are working hard to localize the implementation of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). One way to do that is to create a space where the difference-makers in our community who are driven to lead local, national and global change can intersect and collaborate with each other. This new SDG incubation space for entrepreneurs and start-ups would allow community leaders to ideate, innovate and apply the UN’s Global Goals in ways that help build a stronger Kitchener.”
In 2020, the City acquired the building at 2 King Street in Downtown Kitchener to accommodate a potential future expansion of THEMUSEUM. This space would serve as the hub, with the Waterloo Region Small Business Centre being the first partner, overseeing the space on behalf of the City. Additional entrepreneurial program partners will be brought on after Council approval.
“As one of Canada’s leading startup ecosystems, it’s time for a dedicated space for intersectionality, women-led businesses and racialized entrepreneurs,” said Naudia Banton, Entrepreneurship and Technology Advisor for the Waterloo Region Small Business Centre. “This social entrepreneurship hub can be a launch point for purpose-driven innovation in our community.”
If approved by City Council on Monday, Feb. 28, this would be another major milestone guided by the ambitious plan to support economic recovery, Make It Kitchener 2.0, endorsed by Council in October 2020. Capital costs for this new incubation space for entrepreneurs and start-ups would be allocated from the Economic Development Investment Fund 2.0.
“We have an incredibly talented and diverse range of thought leaders in our community,” said Sarah Marsh, Ward 10 Downtown Councillor. “This first-of-its-kind social entrepreneurship hub will help these leaders to intersect, collaborate and innovate to help solve local and global social and environmental challenges.”
As committed to in the city’s strategic plan, building a vibrant economy continues to be a strategic priority. Through the vision of the strategic plan, and the guidance of the Make It Kitchener 2.0 strategy, this bold new social entrepreneurship hub is yet another strategic investment to support economic prosperity.