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Hamilton Economic Development

Empire Times lands its last tenant

Empire Time Building PhotoWith the announcement of its most recent tenant, the Empire Times building is full.

On Wednesday, FirstOntario Credit Union revealed it will open a business centre by the end of February in the renovated King William Street building, erected in the 1890s.

Dave Schurman, chief operating officer and executive vice-president for FirstOntario, says the centre will be a place for small businesses and entrepreneurs to meet, network and conduct business. A staff of 12, including eight new hires, will work from the office.

It’s the credit union’s second downtown location. In 2011, they opened their doors at 1 James St. S., which had been vacated by Laurentian Bank.

Hamilton is a shining example of what’s really happening in Canada. Small business is really creating most of the jobs …

Dave Schurman

FirstOntario chief operation officer

“We made a statement then that we believed in downtown Hamilton and we put our money where our mouths were,” says Schurman.

“Hamilton is a shining example of what’s really happening in Canada. Small business is really creating most of the jobs … in Canada.”

Schurman says FirstOntario has known for a while now that they wanted an additional downtown presence.

It was just a matter of finding the perfect location.

And they won’t be alone. The entire building – both retail and office space – is full.

He says the look of Empire Times was part of its appeal — the retro, historic feel of the space makes it less intimidating for small businesses and entrepreneurs.

“It’s not a stiff-shirt-and-collar kind walking into an ivory tower thing,” Schurman says.

Developer Steve Kulakowsky, whose company Core Urban Inc. renovated the four-storey building, says he thinks the decision is a great indicator of downtown momentum.

“It’s a unique space that traditionally wouldn’t be for a bank but like their messaging says, they’re not a regular bank,” Kulakowsky says.

He thinks it sends a great message about the number of people who want to live, work, shop and dine in the core.

FirstOntario will join other Empire Times tenants, including the Factor[e] design initiative and The Studio at 41 collaborative professional workspaces.

Chuck’s Burger Bar, with a location on Locke Street in Hamilton, is also expected to open a second location in the Empire Times by the end of February.

Article courtesy of Amy Kenny, The Hamilton Spectator

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