New Brunswick

Saint John plans $2.7M hub for non-profit groups

A plan to build a centre for non-profit groups in Saint John got a boost on Wednesday with a provincial commitment of $300,000 toward a social enterprise hub in the city's Waterloo Village area.

Provincial government announces $300,000 toward creation of 3-storey centre in Waterloo Village area

A plan to build a centre for non-profit groups in Saint John got a boost on Wednesday.

The provincial government committed $300,000 toward a so-called "social enterprise hub" in the city's Waterloo Village neighbourhood.

Tenants of the planned 15,000-square-foot building near Prince Edward Square will focus on pulling people out of poverty.

They are expected to include the Saint John Learning Exchange, Vibrant Communities, and the Human Development Council — a group that was forced out of the Saint John City Market Tower when it flooded in January.

"We have the right groups, we don't have all of them, but some are really looking at poverty reduction with a different lens," said Seth Asimakos, general manager of the Saint John Community Loan Fund, the group behind the project.

"You put the right people together, then all of a sudden new ideas are created, that are not only good for this neighbourhood and this community, but for scaling province-wide."

The Community Loan Fund offers small-scale financing to entrepreneurs, who will also have space in the new $2.75 million building.

One floor will be dedicated to training, and the bottom level of the three-storey building will be used for a number of social enterprises.

"Then you bring entrepreneurship and enterprise in there, and you create an interesting nexus between mission and action," said Asimakos.

An additional $200,000 is still needed for the project, he said.

Once all financing is in place, construction could begin as early as August.