WINCHESTER — The North Dundas Business Centre (NDBC) officially welcomed the public for tours as the ribbon was cut on the facility on Sept. 13.
Involving principals Sarah and John Meharg of Armour Development, as well as lawyer Jeffrey McAvoy of Conduct Law, the 457 Main St. facility has re-opened as a co-working space for companies and individuals wanting as little as a single seat at a desk, to entire suites of offices — all at reasonable rates with included high-speed Internet.
The North Dundas Chamber of Commerce has recently taken a room for administrative purposes, while McAvoy’s Ottawa-based legal firm has also signed on as another anchor tenant. A daycare operation is also under development at the site, and there’s ample available space left throughout the sprawling frame building that once housed a number of government services and a chiropractic clinic in its heyday.
“Yes, we have office space for rent; yes, we’re providing memberships for people interested in working in a shared environment,” said Sarah Meharg at the ceremony. “If you need space, come and talk to us. If you know someone who could use space, please introduce us.”
Meharg cast the development as promoting economic growth in the community. “By helping us bring businesses together, here, you support a thriving community based on relationships, on trust, and on good will.”
An increasingly common method of repurposing vacant commercial buildings in urban centres but still quite a new concept in North Dundas, a co-working environment like NDBC also offers the added benefit of a group dynamic, she emphasized: The shared space helps foster business relationships and networks among tenants and members to the benefit of all. “This place brings people and potential together to fulfill these ideas. Within your own office walls, you’re alone. If you don’t talk to people about your aims and your business vision, then no one knows. If you always work in your business, you never get to work on your business. Experts say we can only reach our full potential in a group, so in summary, Armour Development and Conduct Law are helping fulfill local potential by developing this space.”
Armour Development acquired the largely vacant building from an Ottawa-based Nigerian church congregation that briefly owned the property. The company is also working on plans for a multi-residential building in Chesterville, owns the former Co-operators building on King St., and has a minority stake in the former Nestlé factory. The majority stakeholder in that factory, IDP Group, happens to be furnishing the NDBC with government-quality tables, desks, chairs and filing cabinets.
Mayor Eric Duncan made a special temporary trip back to Winchester from the Eastern Ontario municipal conference in Kingston, along with North Dundas Economic Development Officer Stephen Mann, for the grand opening. Duncan compared the NDBC initiative to the “community hub” concept promoted in municipal and school board circles, noting that the same approach works in the private sector as well. “Businesses and groups are able to work together, network, share space, work together, mentor each other, all those types of things,” observed the mayor, adding the approach also fit with “best practices” he learned about in a Kingston session earlier in the day.
Much of the official opening at NDBC is shown in the clip above.
At the official opening of the North Dundas Business Centre, Lawyer Jeffrey McAvoy — whose family originally hailed from Chesterville — talks the benefits of incorporation during the first part of this clip, followed by Brenda Norman and Sarah Meharg talking about plans for a daycare facility at the Centre and the positive impact on female entrepreneurs.