SACKVILLE, N.B. – Many community and economic development initiatives have gotten off the ground in Sackville thanks to an organization that helps budding entrepreneurs turn their ideas into reality.
Renaissance Sackville, established nearly 25 years ago, is a volunteer-based organization that offers seed funding and support to community projects and business ideas that help to enrich the town’s quality of life.
“Our funding helps to make Sackville a wonderful community to live in and a great place to visit,” said Kate Bredin, chair of Renaissance Sackville, during a recent presentation to town council.
“The local projects we fund enhance a sense of pride and spirit among citizens in our town,” she said. “That’s one of the things we really love about our organization is we are able to do that.”
Sponsored by the town of Sackville since 1994, Renaissance Sackville receives an annual $25,000 grant from the town to continue its work. Bredin said recent initiatives Renaissance has supported include a variety of educational and youth projects; environmental and food sustainability projects; health, theatre and dance organizations; community art and literature projects; and music activities.
“Often the funds we give are a vital initial source of seed funding for groups,” said Bredin. “It also enables them to leverage other funds to help keep them going.”
She said two years ago, the town directed Renaissance to ensure it was awarding at least 50 per cent of its funding to projects that foster economic development.
“The board liked this because it encouraged us to fund new and growing small local businesses and community projects,” said Bredin.
She noted in 2017 and 2018, more than 75 per cent of the funds went towards economic development initiatives, from groups such as Sackville Schools 2020, EOS Eco Energy, Sackville Commons, Wild Wonder Forest School, and more.
“Although they’re non-profit community groups, they’re also businesses – they hire people, they rent space – they really do contribute to the economic and community development of the town.”
Funding is also available through Renaissance to assist downtown businesses with exterior façade improvement and signage.
Bredin said Renaissance has a broad funding criteria with community-based objectives, enabling the organization to provide grants to a variety of projects.
“Sackville is an exceptional place to live and that’s partly due to things Renaissance has funded over the years, since 1994.”
She said a number of “legacy projects” in Sackville got their start through Renaissance and are now self-sufficient organizations or businesses, which is the ultimate goal. The Sackville Farmers’ Market, the Tantramar Heritage Trust, the Sackville Community Garden, the Tantramar Hospice and Palliative Care, Community Forests International – “these community groups are now autonomous and independent organizations, but got their start with funding from Renaissance Sackville.”
Hoping to continue that legacy, Bredin said Renaissance has already supported a number of other recent initiatives which have begun to thrive and are on the path to success.
“We were one of the first organizations to fund the Wild Wonder Forest School, Beausejour Renewable Energy, Bagtown Brewing, Community Machinery … and we’re hoping these organizations will continue and become autonomous and self-sufficient community organizations.”