Community Collaboration

YSpace Northern York Region Entrepreneurship Hub, 2023 | EDAC Marketing Canada Awards: Community Collaboration

Submitted ByTown of East Gwillimbury

The YSpace Northern York Region Entrepreneurship Hub (The Entrepreneurship Hub) is a partnership between the Town of East Gwillimbury (EG), Town of Georgina, & YSpace, York University’s pan-university entrepreneurship & innovation hub. Formed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic challenges, the collaboration between the two rural municipalities & YSpace brings together complementary strengths to provide support & resources for entrepreneurs in northern York Region. This partnership has evolved continuously since 2021, demonstrating an unwavering commitment to entrepreneurs navigating a post-pandemic landscape & serving as a catalyst for EG & Georgina’s economic recovery.

The Entrepreneurship Hub supports local entrepreneurs with a multifaceted approach to recovery & expansion. As a result, the local entrepreneurial ecosystem has been transformed in the following ways:

  • University-Led Education: By partnering with a post-secondary institution, the municipalities gain access to an extensive network of educators & mentors, while small businesses can access university-led entrepreneurial education at no cost, without leaving their home communities.
  • Business Incubator & Accelerator: By creating a physical co-working space in Georgina, businesses have access to business development support, peer-to-peer collaboration, touch-down office space, a board room, & internet access for free.

The Entrepreneurship Hub has served 215 businesses, providing over 450 hours of business coaching, mentorship, & programming. The impact has been substantial, benefitting over 600 individuals in the process. The joint effort has demonstrated tangible results, demonstrating how collaborative initiatives foster economic growth & development within the communities involved.

Phase 1: 2021-2022

Business Bounce Back delivered educational workshops & individual mentorship to over 70 participants from the hospitality & tourism industries in EG & Georgina. The focus of the program was to help businesses create new sources of revenue, launch a business idea, & gain the digital skills to establish an online presence. The participant feedback for this program laid the groundwork for extended entrepreneurial supports in our communities & reinforced the strength of this collaboration.

Phase 2: 2022-2024

The Entrepreneurship Hub builds on the success of the Bounce Back Program to create an ecosystem that supports co-working, fostering both business development & personal development for new & existing entrepreneurs. By sustaining this joint initiative, YSpace programming was able to further expand in northern York Region. In addition to programming, the two-year project (2022-2024) includes the establishment of a physical incubator and accelerator in Georgina (YSpace Georgina), as well as satellite operations in East Gwillimbury to engage the local business community & leverage the expertise of local mentors in collaboration with YSpace instructors.

The Entrepreneurship Hub has forged & strengthened relationships with other local partners, including York Small Business Enterprise Centre, TechConnex, Digital Main Street, Change Connect, South Lake Futures EG Chamber of Commerce, & Georgina Chamber of Commerce. Collaborating with these organizations has allowed to expand programming, peer-to-peer sessions, mentoring, & generate further value for entrepreneurs.

The target audience includes entrepreneurs, business owners, home-based businesses, & individuals seeking to start or develop their businesses within EG & Georgina. The Entrepreneurship Hub’s success in reaching its target audience is exemplified by two participants partnering together to create & execute the inaugural festival, Free Spirit Fest. This not only highlights the Entrepreneurship Hub’s ability to connect like-minded entrepreneurs, but the participants leveraged YSpace Georgina to access on-demand support & funding sources to bring their festival vision to life.