The Hive and Innovation Centre, a government-funded program to help entrepreneurs get their businesses up and running, is now in operation in Bathurst, N.B.

The program gives startup businesses access to work space, financial support, and business expertise and mentorship.

"The hive itself is basically a business accelerator for immigrants who are looking to start up their business or who are in the process of starting or have already started, and they get to work from here with us, and get to get the services we're offering for free," said Kim Chamberlain, director of immigrant business services. 

"The innovation centre is the same thing as the hive except that it's sponsored by the city of Bathurst. For a year, they've been working on creating the innovation centre."

The centre is funded by provincial government through the Atlantic Canadian Opportunities Agency. It is a regional initiative coordinated in Bathurst by the local Chamber of Commerce.

6 months of guidance

There are also centres based in Moncton, and Fredericton and Edmundston. 

"We decided to partner up here. Instead of just having the hive, we've decided let's make it a complete centre, which becomes a business centre. We even have people coming by and saying this is my idea, is this viable?" said Chamberlain.

Kim Chamberlain

Kim Chamberlain, director of immigrant business services says the Hive and Innovation Centre is a partnership that benefits the region. (CBC)

Chamberlain said business people must have a registered business or be working on a business plan to work with hive. They receive up to six months of guidance that helps accelerate their business plan. 

"We'll find out, have you done your research? How many other in the region? How viable do you think your business is going to be here? From there we start reviewing your business plan."

Business people are able to meet with bankers, lawyers and accountants to help with advice and more.  

"Once we sit down and we see where you're going, we match you up with a mentor. They get to work one-on-one for six months, but it truly creates a friendship that lasts a long time," Chamberlain. 

Business space for entrepreneurs

There are six business people working in the centre now. Christophe Couverchel, who recently moved from France to Bathurst in search of a more quiet lifestyle is one of them.

"When I arrived three years ago, this place did not exist yet. But this place existed in Moncton and I saw that it would be a great idea for here." - Christian Baudchon

Couverchel said in French he is 75 per cent on the way to launching his business of selling organic, non-toxic cleaning products, as well as cosmetics and soaps.

Chamberlain said the Hive and Innovation Centre becomes the entrepreneurs business office and gives them access to a desk, Wi-Fi, printers, and a place to meet their clients. 

"We lack selling what we have to offer. That has changed in the last couple years and it's actually going to change some more. We plan to market this region as a place for a business startup," said Chamberlain. 

Getting businesses off ground

Christian Baudchon moved to Bathurst from France three years ago and says he didn't have a place like the hive to help him get his online mapping company off the ground. 

"When I arrived three years ago, this place did not exist yet. But this place existed in Moncton and I saw that it would be a great idea for here," said Baudchon.

Now a board member with the Bathurst Chamber of Commerce, he says he helped get the centre off the ground. 

"Being alone to start a business, especially when it's a new country, new culture, so many new things ... that's difficult so doing it with other people who have the same problems, and with the help of the chamber of commerce and with the help of the community, that's huge," said Baudchon.