Community hubs have been springing up all over Calgary, thanks to a partnership among The City of Calgary, Rotary, and the United Way. Now there is an on-line tool kit to help anyone in any neighbourhood build their own community hub. The document is called “Community Hubs By Design” and it lays out five steps to building a community hub.
“Community Economic Development is one of the main pillars of community hubs” says Philip Lozano. “I was brought on to make sure there was that link to economic development.”
Lozano works for a registered charity called Momentum, set up back in the 90’s by the Mennonite Central Committee of Alberta. He heads up the organization’s community leadership initiative called Thrive.
Born and raised in Calgary, Lozano earned business and education degrees but found his volunteer work gave him more job satisfaction. He sees Momentum and Thrive as “…the intersection of all my passions: a little bit of business, a little bit of education, a little bit of social work, all balled up into one.”
The phrase, “community economic development” appears just 8 times in the 46 pages that make up “Community Hubs By Design” and Philip was just one of nine members of the leadership team that wrote it. But his fingerprints show up in every step.
He says, “The question I always ask is ‘What happens if you can’t get the grant in year two or year three? What happens if a funder decides to pivot in a couple of years and re-invest all its money into community health instead of community hubs?’”
It is no co-incidence that he works one day a week at Emerge Hub in Forest Lawn, upstairs on the second floor of 3515 17th Ave SE. The founders of that hub discovered that there were hundreds of home-based businesses in this economically-challenged part of Calgary’s east end. When your desk is a kitchen table and your warehouse is a garden shed or garage, you can wind up isolated and frustrated in your efforts to grow your business. So, as the toolkit points out, Emerge “provides members with desks, meeting rooms, printing facilities, onsite business support, an extended health benefits plan, and inclusion in a collaborative community.”
It’s not free. Members pay for their use of the facilities. But that is also a legitimate business expense come tax time.
So Emerge Hub is operating in a way Philip would like to see other hubs emulate. “If we think about a hub in the context of business, if you think of your revenue generation at the very end, your business is screwed from the get go.”
The tool kit is available at http://vibrantcalgary.com under the “Resources” tab. Like any artisan, Phillip Lozano is hoping anything built using his tools will last.