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New Centre for Social Enterprise in Ontario East

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St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Kingston expands its role in the community

Social entrepreneurs in the Kingston have a new place to do business. St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church and the Social Planning Council of Kingston and District are launching the first location of the Centre for Social Enterprise in St. Andrew’s Hall.

David Jackson of the Social Planning Council says the primary attraction for a number of people will be very affordable space. “We’re targeting not for profit organizations interested in social enterprise,’ he says. “As part of the services, we’ll be offering a regular set of workshops and networking. We’ll also be able to facilitate development of existing not for profit social enterprises as well as new ones when then come forward.”

There is no single definition of a social enterprise, but the Centre for Social Enterprise is looking at not for profit organizations that have social purposes and use business methods through the sale of products and services for a social end.

Jackson says there are already a number of social enterprises in Kingston, although sometimes it is a matter of reframing what you are looking at. He uses the example of the Cataraqui Archeological Research Foundation. “It is a charitable organization but has a significant consulting aspect which generates a large part of their income. They have successfully operated for a number of years.”

Rev. Mark Tremblay says St. Andrew’s looked at a number of options for the empty space in the hall, including not using the space at all. He says not for profit organizations and the social enterprise model was more of a natural fit with the role of the church.

“We want to be supportive of new ideas,” says Tremblay. “We want to be supportive of people doing things that are not necessarily what we are doing. With a bit of experimentation and entrepreneurial attempts at creating something new, all institutions will be able to find their way – not just churches.”

Jackson says St. Andrew’s is iconic in a number of ways. “It is downtown and it is a very walkable location. St. Andrew’s has a faith-based mission to do many things that social enterprises would like to do. “

Tremblay notes St. Andrew’s is undertaking another type of social enterprise. Kingston Street Mission, which used to operate from a truck outside the church, is moving inside this fall. “They are still them and we are still us,” says Tremblay. “But we’ll be sharing resources, space and ideas to help better suit the needs of the community. And it this case, we did find a group that was reflective of the mission of the church.”

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