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Shipyards foundry ignites inspiration for local business re-launch

'The castings of our original foundry may have cooled, but every year a new generation of entrepreneurs is using our town as a base to launch exciting businesses into the world,' said Collingwood Foundry CEO
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The co-working space at the newly re-named Collingwood Foundry. Contributed photo

Paying homage to the town’s shipbuilding heritage, The Creative Space is now The Collingwood Foundry, a dynamic co-working environment that offers a full suite of programming and support services designed to empower the town’s thriving entrepreneurial community. 

Founded in November, 2016, the Foundry has emerged as a hub for local small business owners and currently hosts 28 active full- and part-time members. With a focus on cross-community collaboration, idea-sharing and engagement, The Foundry delivers networking and business support opportunities in keeping with the fast-growing office co-working trend. 

“More than a century ago, Collingwood established itself as a strong shipbuilding community, resulting in the launch of more than 200 ships,” said Collingwood Foundry CEO Brandon Houston. “The castings of our original foundry may have cooled, but every year a new generation of entrepreneurs is using our town as a base to launch exciting businesses into the world. The Collingwood Foundry is an entrepreneurial ecosystem designed to support those builders at every stage.”

Recognized as Canada’s most entrepreneurial small community by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business in 2016, and as the most entrepreneurial community in Ontario in 2018, Collingwood is quickly emerging as a knowledge-economy destination for growth-oriented businesses locating outside the Greater Toronto Area.

In addition to The Foundry’s current membership advantages--from dedicated fibre Internet access, private call rooms and boardrooms, to member workshops and an online member network--the hub will soon offer an exciting package of new membership benefits. They include a COHIP Health Insurance Plan, community partner offers and a series of lunch-and-learn seminars and thought leadership-driven Entrepreneur Dinner Club sessions. 

“Our aim is to help entrepreneurs succeed across the business life cycle,” said Houston. “Whether that means helping them build or leverage client contacts in major centres such as Toronto, or assess opportunities for growth or exit, our community will support their efforts.”

To further that goal, The Foundry is launching a new three-part service designed to provide ongoing mentoring:

Build: Will assist entrepreneurs as they plan new ventures
Launch: Will support companies in the start-up phase 
Navigate: Will help companies scale, grow, identify and capitalize on business opportunities, while overcoming operational challenges

“Every time I walk into The Foundry I find new reasons to be inspired,” said Chris Atchison, founder of marketing-communications firm Shockwave Strategic Communications, and a long-time member. “This is a highly dynamic environment teeming with entrepreneurial energy and ideas.” 

That sentiment is shared across the community. 

“Having the opportunity to network with fellow entrepreneurs, both within and outside my industry, has been hugely beneficial,” said Kai Hulshof, CEO of Canopy Media, a digital marketing service provider. “I’ve not only generated new business from contacts made in this environment, but have also been able to workshop ideas that helped me set the strategic direction for my firm’s growth.”