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ReNew program concludes, support goes to food bank

August 31, 2016   ·   0 Comments

Rory McGlade (Tottenham landlord, Renew participant, and Renew board member), Robin Hawkes, president of the Our Town Food Bank, and Rob Glozier, president of Renew New Tecumseth, met last week for a cheque presentation of $500 to the Tottenham food bank.



By Wendy Gabrek
Between 2012 and 2015 otherwise darkened storefronts were lit again, based on an idea that just makes sense.
Aptly named “ReNew New Tecumseth,” the program, borne from a first year Ontario Trillium Foundation grant, aimed to partner landlords with empty retail spaces with start-up business owners for the benefit of the entire town – business sector, and otherwise – keeping the store fires burning and would-be day trippers excited to visit our community, filled with “pop-up” promises.
With a focus on renewal, economic development, the arts and creative industries, ReNew was an amazing success in New Tecumseth, fulfilling all of the Trillium Foundation’s requirements.
Here’s how it worked: For just $25 per month, ReNew participants were matched with a local landlord in Tottenham, Beeton or Alliston, and granted use of their empty retail space for a period of time, paying just their small rental agreement ($25/month), a percentage of their net sales and their utility bills.
In all, 15 new business owners jumped at the chance, allowing their customers a chance to meet them, sample their products and build lasting relationships with consumers – something a web-based (only) business simply can’t do.
Because of these partnerships, the Town saw a reduced number of empty storefronts by over 65 per cent, with ReNew filling stores within 31 days of availability.
And the businesses that resulted flourished, leading to long-term leases time after time, many within six months or less.
The program itself also generated about $600 per month for ReNew, a project of the Town of New Tecumseth, and kept nine landlords busy.
Over the four-year course of the project, ReNew reports that foot traffic had increased throughout the downtown core, by as much as 25 per cent, with a matching jump in reported revenue by downtown merchants
Today, 11 of the 17 entrepreneurs placed in spaces are still open for business, having outgrown the ReNew program, and flourishing on their own. Ninety-two per cent of those business owners say that without the program, they would never be in business in the first place. Ten local residents can also thank the ReNew model for their full-time jobs, having been hired as helpers as businesses flourished, and staying on to enjoy the fruit of their labour.
ReNew New Tecumseth is based on the intellectual property, experience, and case study pioneered by Renew Newcastle.
“In 2008 Renew Newcastle was established as a low cost, low budget DIY urban renewal scheme that has proved highly successful and generated significant media and community interest locally, nationally and internationally.
“Through a simple strategy based on the temporary and low cost creative activation of some of the more than 150 empty buildings in the Newcastle CBD significant parts of Newcastle have been transformed.
“Less than two years later as the direct result of Renew Newcastle’s activities more than 70 new businesses and initiatives had been seeded and Newcastle was hailed by Lonely Planet as one of the top 10 cities in the world to visit in 2011 due to the exciting, eclectic creative community that had been seeded there.”
Having concluded on such a successful note, Renew Your Town was created – a program designed to teach neighbouring municipalities how to create, manage and implement their own ReNew programs.
The Tottenham-Beeton Business Improvement Association, and the Alliston Business Improvement Association have collected data on the program and are now administering ReNew Your Town to interested municipalities.
Established as a not-for-profit entity, ReNew’s mandate asked that any leftover monies be redirected back into other social programs in the community upon its completion. As such, ReNew’s president, Robert Glozier, made cheque presentations to My Sister’s Place, the local women and children’s shelter, and the Our Town Food Bank in Tottenham.

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