In the revitalization of any city, a seemingly rejuvenating renovation can unfortunately lead to exclusivity, and creating a space that targets a specific group, often time middle-upper class clients. However, businesses involved in revitalization projects do not have to conduct themselves this way; they can prioritize the well being of people and community, all the while creating an inclusive environment that still makes a profit. When the Wheelhouse opened in the Waterloo Village Area, we have made it a priority to be inclusive, and we have some tips for how prioritizing people and other small businesses can go a long way.
- Supporting Local Businesses
As a new business integrating into a community, The Wheelhouse believes in the importance of supporting what was there before us. Our “business supporting business” mentality means that we are using the resources that are already around us, rather than overlooking them for a business outside the community. For example, The Wheelhouse’s cleaning and coffee services are both provided by neighbouring businesses, which supports development in Waterloo Village. This means that businesses supporting the community are being maintained, creating a healthy, thriving environment. Further, the nature of what The Wheelhouse has to offer attracts freelancers, professionals, artists, and remote workers, meaning that opportunities for inclusive business are being introduced to Waterloo Village. Since opening, The Wheelhouse’s members have included non-profits like Project Roar, B Corps like Adams Green, freelancers like NP Translations, businesses like The Pridham Group, Momentum Canada and Thompson Price Law. Each member offers something special to the community, regardless of how they choose to create an impact. The Wheelhouse is committed to creating a space where people can develop themselves personally and professionally. Whether they’re coming in for professional development courses, or becoming members and tenants, The Wheelhouse is providing space for people to have business connections in a supportive neighbourhood.
- Supporting Social Enterprises and Non-profits
Positive change is extremely important to The Wheelhouse, which is why we support social enterprises and non-profits who provide services to the community that we cannot. Our neighbours, The Social Enterprise Hub, The Teen Resource Center and Outflow, are all unique organizations that play a huge role in supporting Waterloo Village. The Wheelhouse’s cleaning services are provided by Voila! Cleaning, and its coffee services provided by Stone Soup Café, both social enterprises housed in The Social Enterprise Hub. The Wheelhouse also works closely with the Saint John Learning Exchange, hosting workshops in our space as professional development courses. This said, while The Wheelhouse could not provide all of the support that Waterloo Village needs, we find organizations that can, and find ways to support them.
- Inclusive Intentions
The Wheelhouse was founded on the motivation to have a positive impact, to serve the community that it’s based in, to politely have a place in Waterloo Village that’s inclusive and inviting. The Wheelhouse joined the Waterloo Village community with the intent to gently establish ourselves, and see what we could offer the people, not the other way around. Since opening a year ago, The Wheelhouse has made an effort to connect with other local businesses and create a community within the building that can extend to Waterloo Village.
When it comes to business, there’s a kinder way to do things: the world isn’t divided into entrepreneurs and customers or clients. The Wheelhouse is an excellent example of how those lines are blurred, how the business world doesn’t have to be cutthroat, or controlling. It can take the community, the people, the wellbeing of the customer and their competitors into account, all the while making a profit. Businesses, organizations, companies and non-profits have incredible potential to create positive change, to be inclusive and considerate of the community that was there before them. The Wheelhouse and other organizations in Waterloo Village are finding more ways to be apart of the inclusivity, to politely have a stance in a community that was there long before them.