Late on Monday night, The Hub Halifax (1673 Barrington Street)—a space that’s been an incubator for entrepreneurs, start-ups, community-building and many a brainstorm for five years— posted an announcement that it would be closing its current office at the end of the month.
Though the decision was made to coincide with the end of its lease, co-founders Joanne Macrae and Tracy Boyer had been chewing on ways to make the organization more financially sustainable for some time. “We were probably a couple of years into things and we realized that the space wasn't ideal for what we needed to make the model work better,” says Boyer. “It's pretty hard to get out of a lease arrangement once you're in, but we started looking for a place where we'd have more space.”
Rumours of a new home on Gottingen Street have circulated for the past three years, but Boyer says the opportunity didn’t line up when it came to timing, or economics. Now, she and Macrae have decided to take a breather, and start a conversation surrounding what’s next for The Hub. “We didn't start up with enough financing, we’ve had to carry it on our own backs,” Boyer says. Like many other shared work spaces worldwide, Hub Halifax goers pay a membership fee based on the hours per month spent in the space. But unlike its like-minded organizations, getting grant and sponsorship support was a challenge. “When we started there wasn't a good understanding of what The Hub was and what it could do. It's easier to say no than to say we don't really get it.”
“Our end goal is a big one and it’s not one that's easy to box in, same with the kinds of people we want to support,” she continues, adding The Hub’s approached organizations like ACOA for support since the beginning. “Volta is doing very well and they're serving a niche group of people…and they got immediate funding to do what they're doing. I think it’s that their focus is really easy to understand.”
In efforts to not disrupt current members, The Hub will continue some of its operations out of the Vogue Building, also on Barrington Street, for the time being. Boyer and Macrae are able to set up shop there without suffering a financial loss, but can no longer offer month-to-month memberships or remain open to the public.
“It is a bit heartbreaking,” says Boyer of the decision to shut down the space that’s helped yield local businesses like I Heart Bikes and MindSea, and propel countless collaborations. “It has been a labour of love for us both....Things do open and they do close and to let something new emerge, you have to step back a bit.”
The Hub’s online presence will remain as is, keep an eye on it for updates or to engage in this conversation.