Entrepreneur forum seen as catalyst for downtown revitalization

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By Belle Hatfield
Ever had a great idea for a business, but don’t know how to take it from dream to reality? Have a commercial property that’s been vacant far too long? Yarmouth’s town council wants to hear from you.

Yarmouth town council wants to initiate an entrepreneur forum to help match start-up businesses with necessary supports, including financing and landlords with empty storefornts in the downtown.

The council has directed staff to initiate an entrepreneurs’ forum early in the new year. Council’s intention is that the forum will be led by the business community. The town’s role is to act as the catalyst to jump-start new business ventures and fill up the empty commercial properties that proliferate the town – with a special focus on the downtown core.

Mayor Pam Mood told the Vanguard that, in bringing the idea to the council table, her thoughts were, “we have lots of needs and lots of gifts and we need to match them with each other.”

Council is looking for entrepreneurs to step forward with their ideas, but also, landlords, business-related agencies, educators and would-be small business mentors. 

 “I see all kinds of empty store fronts and lots of people that could probably fill them. My thinking is that if we could put everybody together in a room and sort through the issues, who knows what can happen,” she told council.

The idea was enthusiastically endorsed by those sitting around the council table.

Councillor Madeleine Daues made the motion to host the entrepreneurs’ meeting. She noted that, in her experience the landlords are open to ideas, and that there are many people with great products in the local area who either don’t have start up cash or the security of future sales needed to sign long term leases.

Councillor Dan MacIsaac said, having personal experience dealing with the bureaucracy surrounding the establishment of a business, it was critical that staff from the town’s planning department be on hand to explain the permitting processes.

“The permits and other things the town has restrictions on, some times they can be time consuming. Us as a council, we have the capability to make things move faster,” he observed, adding, “We need to fully support it.”

Since the motion was made at council’s December meeting, Mayor Mood says she has already heard from Mary Thompson at the Nova Scotia Community College.

“She has approached me and would like to play a role in this, beginning with the possibility of hosting,” she said, adding “We've got it in us, so let's put the players in the same room and hash this out.”

  Mayor Mood says the date is not yet confirmed, but the entrepreneur’s forum is one of her New Year’s resolutions.

“I want to see the storefronts filled and to give visitors and locals a great place to shop,” she said.

Click here for the All Hands in The Dirt local food entrepreneur program being hosted by FarmWorks on Wednesday, Jan. 22 at the Pere Maurice LeBlanc Theatre at Ecole Par en Bas in Tusket.

Organizations: Nova Scotia Community College, Vanguard, Pere Maurice LeBlanc Theatre

Geographic location: Tusket

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