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Small businesses to get taste of downtown

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The Downtown Winnipeg Business Improvement Zone is launching a three-week pilot project called Launch It!

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

The Downtown Winnipeg Business Improvement Zone is launching a three-week pilot project called Launch It! Photo Store

A new pilot project is giving seven small businesses a chance to see what it would be like to have a retail presence in downtown Winnipeg.

The Launch It! Youth Entrepreneurship Incubator and Pop Up Shop project is a joint initiative of the Downtown Winnipeg Business Improvement Zone (BIZ) and Portage Place Shopping Centre.

For the next three weeks, the seven businesses will share about 4,000 square feet of space on the second level of the Portage Place mall. The front half of the space will feature seven mini-shops where each business can display and sell their products and services to the general public. And the back half has been divided into small offices they can use while there.

"The concept today is all about engagement," Downtown BIZ executive director Stefano Grande told invited guests attending the late-morning official launch event. He said the entrepreneurs will have a chance to see how the public responds to their products and the BIZ and Portage Place will get feedback from the entrepreneurs on whether the incubator concept works and whether it could be improved.

If the project is deemed a success, the partners will then look at taking it to the next step.

"We’ll be looking to see if this could become a permanent spot for this kind of project," said Portage Place general manager Dave Stone.

Stone said one possibility is to have entrepreneurs stay in the incubator for six months or a year, after which they hopefully would be ready to open shops of their own somewhere in the downtown.

The seven participating businesses are: OI Furniture, Synonym Art Consultation, EPH Apparel, The Bannock Factory, Lennard Taylor, Delicious Kicks and DigiPlus.

History

Updated on Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at 4:26 PM CDT: current photo added

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