After two months of promotions, three open houses and 22 applications, a winner has been chosen of the Downtown Simcoe Win This Space competition.
The winning proposal comes from Jess Bommarito for her company Groundswell Coworking, a space to serve local small businesses and entrepreneurs.
The prize is free rent for one year of the ground floor space at 56 Norfolk St. South.
“I’m thrilled my vision to serve the emerging number of people working remotely in Norfolk was selected,” said Bommarito. “Groundswell will revolutionize how local entrepreneurs, freelancers, virtual assistants, and all-around creatives who spend the majority of their time working all alone on their laptops can work, network and generate new ideas.”
Bommarito is hosting a series of “Lonely Laptopper Hang Outs” across the county to bring together home-based businesses from throughout Norfolk County. Visit lonelylaptoppers.com to RSVP.
Win This Space is an initiative of Norfolk County’s Urban Renewal Partnership Project.
The objective of the contest is threefold: fill at least one empty downtown space; assist one budding entrepreneur to realize their business dream; and add to the revitalization of downtown Simcoe.
Funding for the initiative was provided by Norfolk County and the province under the Main Street Revitalization Initiative.
“I was pleasantly surprised by the quality and calibre of the business plans that were submitted,” said Kayla Deleye, senior planner with the county and project lead, in a media release. “This confirms what we always suspected, that there are a lot of creative business ideas in our community.”
Clark Hoskin, Norfolk’s director of tourism and economic development, said staff is “committed to exploring multiple paths to downtown revitalization in collaboration with our community stakeholders.”
Win This Space is a concept that has been used by other towns across Canada to varying degrees of success.
Jim McGimpsey, general manager of the Simcoe Downtown BIA and Simcoe and District Chamber of Commerce, said the contest’s ultimate win would be to help a number of the entrepreneurs who applied to start their own business in downtown Simcoe.
“I plan to meet with the applicants who have put a lot of hard work into their business plans and who are still interested in moving forward with their dream,” said McGimpsey, who was a member of the contest selection committee.
“We are hoping we can assist some of them to also start their businesses. Other property owners have already stepped forward and have shown an interest in the program having seen the potential to get their storefronts filled with quality tenants.”
McGimpsey said they have received other ideas on how to attract businesses to the downtown.
“The ultimate objective is to engender a renaissance in downtown Simcoe and I think it has started.”