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Sackville Commons thrives in first year

Co-working space becoming community hub

Editor's Note: Second life. It can represent a chance to do over. To reset and refocus your life. To shake off the past and give yourself an opportunity to change and grow. In our series, Second Life, we took a look at how those in the small business world, out of necessity or desire, reach beyond their comfort zones to re-create themselves and their world. These stories celebrate those who saw potential in being something else or creating something that wasn’t and were brave enough to take the plunge into the deep, dark waters of entrepreneurship.

SACKVILLE, N.B. – It’s a place to work, to share ideas, and to feel motivated, or simply to send a fax, make a phone call, use the wi-fi, hold a board meeting, or host a special event.
“We try to make space for anything and everything,” says Julia Feltham, co-founder and executive director of the Sackville Commons.
Having only opened its doors a year ago, The Commons has quickly become a dynamic and thriving space where local entrepreneurs, artists, artisans, non-profits and community groups are coming together to work, share ideas and resources, and build a sense of community.
“I'm impressed with how everyone at the Commons works as a team, I can't say enough about all they've done,” says Daniel Haartman of Community Machinery, just one of the more than 70 new members of the Sackville Commons.
The Commons is essentially a community co-working space and offers members access to work stations, storage, meeting rooms, phone and photocopying service, and also regularly hosts development workshops and information sessions.
“Some of what they've provided is really specialized; budgeting for cash-flow, business development opportunities, and networking with people who have really gone out of their way to earn my trust,” says Haartman. “There's also a lot of little things, like their willingness to sign for packages while I've been setting up, use of a fax machine, and having use of a meeting room.”
The conversation around creating a Commons started nearly a decade ago in Sackville. In a world where growing numbers of people work alone as entrepreneurs or in web-based businesses, there is a lot of flexibility and personal freedom, but also a feeling of isolation sometimes that comes from not working in a busy office setting.
Feltham says a co-working model offers the opportunity for those people to work among others in an informal atmosphere but one that can inspire, energize and provides a chance to share ideas and resources – “so we make sure we all thrive a little better and we don’t feel so alone.”
She says providing a supportive atmosphere, where people can share spaces and experiences, is a step towards “normalizing entrepreneurship as a career path,” which is much needed in today’s new economy.  
The Commons has also welcomed non-profits into its folds, providing them with office space and office resources, as well as the ability to collaborate with other community stakeholders on important issues.
The Sackville Commons opened last fall out of the former fire hall and police station on Main Street, and since then has drawn in a wide array of new members, from Bagtown Brewing, to Daybreak, to the Art Hive, Rural Rides, the Sackville Farmers’ Market, Bay of Fungi.
New members are being sought, she says, with the goal of having another 10 to 15 members to keep the Commons sustainable.

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