Entrepreneurs and business owners in the Kingston area now have the opportunity to learn from a series of free business workshops, thanks to a new collaboration between the Kingston Frontenac Public Library (KFPL) and Kingston Economic Development Corporation (KEDC).
The workshops consist of two monthly sessions: Improving Your Digital Presence, held the first Tuesday of the month and led by Sara Giraldo Hoyos, Digital Business Advisor at Kingston Economic Development, and Exploring Entrepreneurship, held the last Thursday of each month and led by Norman Musengimana, Kingston Economic Development’s Business Development Manager of Start-up & Entrepreneurship.
Despite that the partnership was announced by Kingston Economic Development on Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2024, Nour Mazloum, Marketing & Communications Manager for Kingston Economic Development, told Kingstonist that the workshops started at the library last month (December 2023).
“We’re always looking to forge new partnerships to expand our outreach and services and the library was a natural fit for this,” Mazloum said in an email to Kingstonist. “As they already wanted to promote their business books section, and they have beautiful and accessible locations for the public throughout the region, [this collaboration] is perfect for individuals who may not be able to attend our workshops at our offices. It really is about being more accessible and collaborating to create services and opportunities together for our community.”
When asked how the collaboration came about, Max Manga, the Teen & New Adult Services Librarian at KFPL, told Kingstonist that, early last year, Donna Gillespie from KEDC reached out to the library about collaboration and building a partnership.
“I met with her and Meg Hewitt (Community Outreach & Programs Coordinator at KEDC) over the summer. We started small, working with KEDC staff to build a curated reading list about business and entrepreneurship books,” he shared.
“KEDC had been running workshops virtually, and I suggested we work together to bring workshops in person to library spaces. That is how we came up with both the ‘Improve your Digital Presence‘ and ‘Exploring Entrepeneurship‘ workshops.”
According to a release from Kingston Economic Development, the monthly workshops are designed for individuals interested in exploring entrepreneurship and businesses seeking to improve their digital literacy. The workshops will cover a range of topics “essential for today’s business landscape,” KEDC stated, noting that topics include business planning, digital marketing strategies, financial management ,and technological advancements.
Manga noted that a library card is not necessary to attend these events and, as such, free registration is available on the Kingston Economic Development events page. He did share that at least one person who attended a December workshop signed up for a KFPL library card afterward.
“At the heart of our collaboration with Kingston Economic Development is a commitment to the well-being and growth of individuals in our community. This partnership means expanded access to knowledge, skills development, and innovative spaces. Together, we’re providing valuable tools for success and building a community that thrives on knowledge and opportunity,” said Laura Carter, CEO of KFPL.
When asked how these type of workshops were held in the past, Mazloum said that Kingston Economic Development has offered virtual, in-person, and hybrid workshops from their office, located at 366 King St. E., Suite 420. They plan to continue to offer these workshops while adding the two workshop series at the more accessible library branches.
“The goal of this partnership is to make these sessions more accessible and inclusive to entrepreneurs and small business owners. A big thank you to the KFPL for collaborating with us to support our business community,” said Rob Tamblyn, Business Development Manager of Small & Medium Enterprises at Kingston Economic Development.
KFPL, and specifically Manga, has some goals for this new business program, which, he said, provided a foundation for why the library wanted to collaborate with KEDC on workshops in the first place.
“We want to connect entrepreneurs and small business owners with all of the fantastic resources the library has to offer. We have a Create Space with tools that might be of use, plenty of quiet study space for small and online business owners to work free from the distractions of home, private meeting rooms, larger bookable spaces for meetings, access to important professional development resources like LinkedIn Learning, and, of course, we have an awesome selection of books on a variety of topics that may be of interest, like social media/marketing, management, and entrepreneurship. If we can get more Kingstonians into the library, and encourage them to engage with our spaces and services, everyone wins!” he expressed.
“Not only do we want to provide local business people with these tools to help their businesses thrive, but we also wanted to provide a public space where KEDC experts can engage with the public, and where these small businesses and small business owners can interact with each other, building a stronger sense of community.”
The library’s business books section will now include a collection of books about business curated by the Kingston Economic Development team. Kingston Economic Development noted that whether you’re fostering the entrepreneurial spark in young minds or honing your own business expertise, these selections offer valuable insights into the world of commerce and innovation!
“Building community in Kingston and Frontenac County is something that both the library and KEDC are passionate about, and hopefully these workshops can help some of our residents achieve that, while improving their business skills and acumen as well,” Manga concluded.