Non-profits on the Sunshine Coast may be one step closer to creating a co-operative central hub, similar to a co-working space. The Community Resource Centre has been approved for a provincial $9,924 Rural Dividend grant to explore the feasibility of a shared physical space and support services.
Resource Centre board member Pat Hunt said in a interview that the concept behind the grant goes back to April 2012, when 80 representatives of not-for-profit and government organizations participated in a workshop about co-op models. Hunt was one of the attendees.
“As we explored notion of a cooperative working relationships, we looked at what some of the advantages could be, such as shared rent, services, technology, bookkeeping, purchasing and meeting space,” said Hunt. “There was also the opportunity to share ideas and inspiration through people working together, and to be an incubator for leadership development.”
“We left that meeting feeling like there was definitely excitement about the concept but knowing that it needed to be explored further,” said Hunt. Unfortunately, the idea lacked a champion and went no further until this year when the Resource Centre saw a suitable grant opportunity and decided to “go back to that 2012 conversation and really dig down and see whether this could be of benefit to community.”
The six-month feasibility study will survey Sunshine Coast not-for-profit organizations to determine their needs, interests and capacity. They will also look at other communities to see what kind of service hubs are already operating, and how they are structured and funded.
“When we do the research and check the feasibility, there may not be an interest in going forward, and that’s OK, because at least we’ve given it a thorough look,” said Hunt.
On the other hand, if the feasibility study determines that there is a workable model and an appetite to attempt it, the Resource Centre can apply for a follow-up grant.
“That would be a partner application for up to $500,000, of which the Rural Dividend Fund would pay 60 percent, and the community—through a combination of dollars and in-kind—would come up with the rest,” said Hunt.
Hunt expects the study will be up and running by mid-November. She says that the concept of a community hub is an ideal fit with the Resource Centre’s mandate to provide information and referral, and build community partnerships.