News / Calgary

Co-work incubator space coming to Calgary's International Avenue

The area BRZ will join entrepreneurs, artists and small businesses in the newly-renovated space

This rendering shows what the space will look like after final renovations are complete. It’s set to be open by June 19.

Courtesy International Avenue BRZ

This rendering shows what the space will look like after final renovations are complete. It’s set to be open by June 19.

The International Avenue BRZ is getting some new digs, and they’re inviting 30 of the community’s up-and-coming entrepreneurs and artists to join them.

The Emerge Co-work Innovation Hub will provide working space and resources such as printing and business counselling to the businesses and groups that set up shop in the building.

Most importantly, the BRZ is hoping it will create synergy for the participants as they come together in a single workspace and network, according to BRZ executive director Alison Karim-McSwiney.

“The connections we have as a BRZ – hopefully we can connect them with the people and businesses around here,” she said.

The idea came in part from the co-work spaces that have become popular in San Francisco. Karim-McSwiney took a tour of five such spaces, and the best ideas from those models will be incorporated into International Avenue’s plan.

The space, which is still under renovation, will be at 3515 17 Avenue SE, above Tomoka Coffee.

Karim-McSwiney said there will be room for 30 participants – entrepreneurs, businesses, artists, makers, and social innovators will all be welcome to reserve a spot for $125 a month.

What they get in return is a desk space, access to a boardroom, private phone booths, scanning and printing services, and potentially even a health benefits program.

The other major resource will be advice from business development partners such as Thrive, Momentum and the Alberta Community Cooperative Association, not to mention the BRZ.

John Willam Wade, secretary of the board of directors for the BRZ, said the co-work space will really act as an incubator for the businesses that will eventually set up shop along 17 Avenue SE.

“The number one thing that tends to doom businesses is they don’t have those social support systems,” he said.

Karim-McSwiney said International Avenue has a proud tradition of being ground zero for new Canadians who launch their own business.

In addition to the 425 storefronts on International Avenue, she said they know of 500 home-based businesses in the greater Forest Lawn area.

She thinks many of those home-based business will benefit by coming on board.

“We want to connect people together and help them streamline, to make their businesses more profitable,” she said.

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