Empire Times lands its last tenant
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 …
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