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Portage Place Shopping Centre

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Portage Place has proudly built the reputation of being more than a mall – extending support to the community it serves in more ways than one.

The mall celebrates its status as a “meeting place, and it is supported from people from all walks of life,” says general manager David Stone.

“(We’re) very pleased to be in the position to support agencies and groups who need space and support, so they can extend their services to those who need them. Whether it is a day program in Edmonton Court or a longer term arrangement in a vacant unit, it is always our goal to support the community if we can.”

In offering such a mix of tenants, Portage Place has become a place not only to shop, but where persons with disabilities can obtain support services, youth can visit Studio 393 for a positive space to collaborate and participate in creative workshops, and professionals and downtown residents can grab lunch or meet before heading to a Jets game.

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The mall has also been able to cultivate exciting new experiences for its shoppers while benefitting young entrepreneurs.

By offering limited-term, rent-free spaces to new businesses as part of the Launch It! Retail Incubator & Pop-Up program, young entrepreneurs have been given an incredible opportunity to test their businesses’ viability in the downtown market.

The program capitalizes on vacant storefronts by bringing life to them, showcasing innovative businesses in their infancy that enrichen the shopping experience.

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Long-term, Portage Place hopes to engage more exciting young start-ups like these to see the opportunities downtown.

“Our downtown was built on local owners with up-start businesses, and we need to continue to give young people the opportunity to experience real-life business situations,” says Stone. “Giving young entrepreneurs the opportunity to open a business and to see the ups and downs and the ins and outs of running a business is very valuable.”

Visitors love perusing these new concepts as they’re getting their start, and with a little leniency, both parties benefit from using the vacant space productively.

“I would love to see all downtown property owners participate in providing unused space to young entrepreneurs,” says Stone. “It doesn’t have to be a long-term arrangement or an agreement that prevents the property owner from leasing the space out permanently – all it takes is a little flexibility from both parties.

“Our downtown would look much better if everyone took the time to allow pop-up shops to fill vacant spaces or even allow local small businesses to build displays in vacant storefronts.”

Portage Place was awarded the 2016 Downtown Winnipeg BIZ’s Significant Contribution to the Downtown Community Award.

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