Students inject vitality into core
Vivacity project forges business ideas in empty office space
You can call millennials lazy all you like, but a group of twentysomethings from Mount Royal University may hold the key to developing a more vital and energized downtown core.
The students teamed up with Calgary Economic Development and various Calgary businesses as part of the Vivacity project, which seeks to involve young people in urban planning and development in the city.
Court Ellingson, vicepresident of research and strategy at Calgary Economic Development, said the project addresses the disconnect young people may feel from their city.
“The most important thing is that the students see a future and a home for themselves in Calgary,” he said. “Why would they choose to leave now that they see what the real potential of their city is, and now that they see that they can be a part of it?”
The students teamed up to launch four different businesses in empty downtown office space. They are a meditation centre, a “you brew” tap house, an art space and a fitness café.
“We wanted to capitalize on craft beer culture and bring something downtown that is very youthful, hands-on and interactive,” said Sara McMullan, a business student at MRU and team leader of Forge, the project’s brew-it-yourself business.
“We know that people will go to work in cities where there are unique attractions nearby, where it’s a neat environment,” said McMullan.
By building a niche business that’s only available downtown, she says millennials may lose the perception that the downtown only caters to corporations and is instead a hub for activity.
At the same time, these small, specialty businesses may make Calgary more attractive to corporations looking for vibrant cities and markets to expand into.
MRU student Sara McMullan