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Business centre gives new life to old building


The former town hall is refurbished, repurposed and rebranded as a business innovation centre and, as its name suggest, it's a model of doing things differently.

The Community Credit Union Innovation Centre officially opened for business at the corners of Acadia and Ratchford streets in Amherst with (from left) Community Credit Union board member Howard Walsh, Cumberland Businesses Development Corp. chair Kathy Morash, Amherst Mayor Robert Small, Cumberland North MP Terry Farrell and Manson Gloade of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada cutting the ribbon.

The Community Credit Union Business Innovation Centre is a $1.7 million investment in the community funded by three levels of government, each putting in half-a-million. The Community Credit Union invested the remaining $200,000 securing the naming rights to the centre.

Inside the Cumberland Business Development Corp. [CBDC] will help new businesses develop while existing businesses can take advantage of the amenities, including a conference space and board rooms. There is also a stage where concerts, plays and more can now be performed.

The building resolves a collection of needs already identified in the community that required attention after town business was relocated to the Dominion building on Victoria Street in the community’s downtown.

“Community groups such as theater and entertainment expressed in needing a place to perform with a space being the right size to put on a performance,” Small said. “Business groups expressed interest prior to the completion of the Ivany Report  – and since the report came out – needing a place for business ideas to grow. A place to host meetings, conferences and serve other business purposes.”

A number of town employees were involved behind the scenes developing the project, keeping in on budget and deadline. Among them, Amherst’s outgoing director of economic development Roger McIsaac was lauded for his role in bringing the centre to fruition.

“This is the last of many projects that Roger will conceive, administer and put on behalf of the town ad I know he had a large part in making this project came in time and on budget,” Cumberland North MP Terry Farrell said.

The centre reflects a new way of doing business in the province, Farrell said, and the concept was inline with the province’s push to change economic development.

“The partnership that made this happen is unique. It’s a partnership between all levels of government, community organizations and non-government organizations and business,” Farrell said.

Kathy Morash, CBDC chair, lauded the foresight of the community to not only think outside of the box when investigating into the local economy, but by repurposing an old building at the same time. 

“Repurposing a building is not only environmentally sound, but it is economically prudent,” Morash said. “It is so nice to see a building being reused and not torn down. I have no doubt this building will be well-used and a credit to the community.”

The CBDC will administer and manage the building, taking incoming bookings for space and use of its facilities.

The Confederation Memorial Building was originally built in 1967 and used as Amherst’s town hall until 2012.

 

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