emergeHUB has now been open for a mere 4 months, and in that time it feels like a lot has happened. We've proudly hosted over 200 people at our programs, launched our ChangeMaker conversations, initiated an incubation project with partners, hosted a summer market, and drawn in new members to our community.
But then, on October 28th, our neighbours, Illichmann's Sausauge Shop, celebrated their 50th anniversary of doing business! For me personally, this put emergeHUB's endeavours into a valuable perspective. A business like Illichmann's (and there are several similarly long-lived in our district) has been serving residents, sharing stories, building goodwill, generating economic growth and all around building a sense of community for all of the past 50 years. It has seen a generational transition in ownership, 8 mayors, oil booms and oil busts, the end of the cold war... and through it all has been steadily serving their loyal customers and incrementally building a reputation, not just for themselves but for the neighbourhood. And Illichmann's is just one example, the International Avenue Business Revitalization Zone (or, BRZ) has over 400 members, several as old as Illichmann's, several as new as emergeHUB, and a great many in between. All contributing something unique to the community as a whole. All occupying a particular moment in time that is unique for each but shared by all.
Our place in this fabric is very much something that sets emergeHUB apart. While we may look brand-new, but we are very much a part of of a BRZ which has been doing work for over 20 years, and an outgrowth of a business community that has been an active part of Forest Lawn for a century! emergeHUB is simply a new, innovative, and additional way of seeking to create connections and collaborations in our community.
None of this is to say that we are preoccupied with gazing back through time nostalgically. Rather, I think the International Avenue community is kaleidoscopic. You turn one way and you see a piece of history, you turn another and you see a person just arrived from afar, another and you see a social initiative that is making a real impact on lives, another a local shopkeeper steadily serving the needs of customers, each time you turn you see something new, different and unique.
The International Ave BRZ is focused on Community Economic Development - growth for the benefit of all - and that begins by recognizing the strengths of the community that surrounds us, which we have and will continue to do, with projects like emergeHUB and who knows what may come next.
From one of International Avenue's newest arrivals to one of it's stalwarts: Congratulations, and thank you for your wonderful service. We hope we can continue to contribute to each other's communities in each and every moment.