On Wednesday afternoon, stakeholders and entrepreneurs from a cross section of the business community viewed the former MonTobacco building in Brades in a new light.
Under the auspices of the ICT Unit within the Ministry of Communications, Works, Labour and Energy (MCWLE), the factory shell is being repurposed to become the Innovation Centre.
Loni Howe, Head of the ICT Unit said Phase One has been completed and now the input of the stakeholders is needed to develop plans for Phase Two. Funded by MCWLE, Phase One of the centre saw the build out of an ICT room set up with 15 computers which can be used by the public and organisations for trainings and other activities. Four air-conditioned offices have also be constructed.
Adena Johnson, Principle Trade Officer in the Department of Trade is part of the innovation team spearheading the project. She told the gathering that the vision is to build out the complex to offer co-working, meeting and commercial spaces for the business community.
Once completed the Innovation Centre will offer a business incubator for startups, personalised business support services, meeting spaces for business organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce and Crafters Association, etc. Entrepreneurs will be able to reserve semi-private cubicles to access computers and Wi-Fi or rent office space below the normal market rates.
Johnson added that following the PRIME events, there has been an increased demand for a space where the sellers can display their products. There are limited shop spaces available but one will be reserved to stock items from PRIME vendors. Also in the plans are a cafe and space for pop-up events.
Julius Morris, an architect in the Public Works Department presented the concepts for the building. He also provided a tour of the complex, to show where additional construction would be undertaken to bring the vision to life.
Once the ideas are finalised the Phase Two plans will be costed and funding sought.
Stakeholders provided feedback on the plans and encouraged swift action to implement ideas which could show proof of concept.