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Wednesday was the beginning of a new chapter for entrepreneurs and hobbyists of the Portage-Lisgar region with the opening of North Forge South in Morden.

Alison Lea, the Executive Director of North Forge South, wasn't surprised at the response noting within the first two-and-a-half weeks of opening their services to the region 27 applications for their startup program had been received.

"We made it clear that this is a community initiative, it takes a village, and not only myself and the people from the Winnipeg start-up community can make this happen; we have business leaders, we have moms, dads, entrepreneurs, subject matter experts, and people in the community wanting to know more and how they can get involved."

North Forge is a non-profit organization with offices across Manitoba, and the North Forge South office in Morden will be the central hub for innovation and economic development for the Pembina Valley.

The services will allow entrepreneurs to reach the market and reduce the risks and costs of innovation.

Dan Blair, Founder, and CEO of Bit Space Development is one of the success stories.

Bit Space Development is a virtual reality and augmented reality software company and has developed products across Canada including the apps used at the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre in Morden.

Blair says that without North Forge his business might not have grown to where it is today.

"One thing North Forge really helped us with was that whole mentorship aspect of understanding how do you turn your failures into learning experiences and how do you even overcome the idea of how do you market your product, how do you market yourself, how do you even structure your business?"

Blair insertNorth Forge allows a product to iterate rapidly on both physical and digital prototypes, meaning a person can fail fast and fail cheap says Blair, "it's much better to fail when you've spent a $1,000 than $100,000.

Bringing North Forge to the region has been a work in progress for the Morden Community Development Corporation (MCDC).

Chad Sheldon, Business Development Specialist, and MCDC board member says the bright new addition to Morden's economic climate means tremendous things for the business community, not only in creating new businesses but the economic spin-offs as well.

"They're building buildings, they're hiring staff, those staff need houses, they're eating at restaurants, the spin-off is remarkable."

This new epicentre of ingenuity and creativity will add to the growth already being seen in Morden, and together with volunteers, partners, and new business, it's fascinating to think of what could be, he says.

Currently, North Forge South is in the process of building their facilities, one for additive manufacturing and woodworking along Stephen Street, and another for metalworking and robotics, which will be located within the industrial section.

Lea says they are looking for members of the community to come forward to help source ideas, so North Forge South will be able to provide services the region actually needs.


NFSDesignSupporters filled the Aquasaur Theatre at the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre to celebrate the launch party of North Forge South Wednesday

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