Renew Northern Wellington initiative aims to fill up vacant storefronts

The Town of Minto and the townships of Mapleton and Wellington North are collaborating to launch the Renew Northern Wellington Arts and Business Association.

The downtown revitalization program aims to partner new businesses with empty storefronts.

“Renew Northern Wellington is modeled off of the successful Renew Program that helps to put talented people into downtown storefronts to gain exposure, build their business, and become a sustainable enterprise,” states a joint press release from the three municipalities.

The program offers empty downtown stores for a very small participation fee to assist owners in getting their business built and becoming successful.

“The program offers minimal risk and investment but is unlimited in its opportunities for success,” the release states.

Wellington North began the process to develop the three-year program to help revitalize its downtowns by filling empty storefronts with fresh, new, innovative business ideas.

With the support of the two Chambers of Commerce as well as the Mount Forest Business Improvement Association, the township obtained $66,300 in funding over two years from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to support the program.

“Building on current relationships with the Town of Minto and Mapleton Township, the opportunity to partner on this initiative was soon recognized,” officials state.

By partnering and building resources to form Renew Northern Wellington, the three areas will rollout the program in unison and aim to build capacity, cross-promote communities, share resources and grow awareness of the opportunity in the region.

Community representation from the respective areas will make up a volunteer board to govern the not-for-profit corporation. Renew Northern Wellington will match vacant commercial retail space with new businesses that need a hand getting started. “It will help entrepreneurs get exposure and grow their business by providing low cost access to a storefront location, which will aid the communities in growing foot traffic in our downtowns and appeal of the available commercial locations,” officials note.  The new small business growth that Renew Northern Wellington will incubate is expected to stimulate employment, generate economic activity and invigorate local downtowns, making them a more desirable destination to visit, shop, dine in, stay and invest, officials say.

Launch It Minto, the Saugeen Economic Development Corporation and Wellington County Economic Development will help provide business resources, including training and mentorship designed to educate new and established business owners on a wide range of business strategies.

“Northern Wellington is a place for entrepreneurs to be successful. We are committed to see that vision happen and will offer education and guidance not only to the new business we are seeking to attract, but to our existing business environment as well, to support growth and success,” the release states. Existing building owners looking for activity in empty storefronts or entrepreneurs wondering if their talent, idea, creative endeavour, or business could become successful and profitable are encouraged to contact project co-ordinators:

– Wellington North, April Marshall and Dale Small at 519-848-3620, or;

– Minto, Belinda Wick-Graham at 519-338-2511 or; or

– Mapleton, Crystal Ellis  at 519-638-3313 or