Emerging social enterprise ecosystem in St. John's

Social entrepreneurship plays a role in driving innovation and economic growth by addressing societal challenges and creating new economic opportunities. St. John’s is becoming a thriving ecosystem for social enterprises, with key organizations focused on supporting and encouraging growth in the sector. This year November 16th is Social Enterprise Day, a day to raise awareness of social enterprises. To celebrate the day, Memorial University’s Centre for Social Enterprise (CSE) is hosting a Social Enterprise Fair November 16 at the University Centre between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m

CSE has established itself as a hub of social enterprise expertise and activity with a wide network of collaborators and partners both within Newfoundland and Labrador and beyond. The CSE is an essential support to Memorial's MBA in social enterprise and entrepreneurship, the first MBA program in Canada purposefully designed to prepare students to become a new kind of leader for a new way of doing business – one that is based on the three pillars of sustainability: people, planet and profits. CSE recently opened the Social Changemaker Space, providing an inspirational location for student innovators and community leaders to collaborate. The space also houses the Social Ventures Incubator and co-working space.

There are several social enterprises in St. John’s from those that are long standing and diversified as well as those that are newer with a niche.  

Choices for Youth, a youth-focused, non-profit, charitable organization that operates programs and social enterprises to help vulnerable youth, have announced their plans for a new Social Enterprise Hub on Lemarchant Road. The facility will be converted into a training school as well as a retail space. Social enterprises operated by Choices have employed 78 youth, created 43,035 hours of youth employment and generated $630,000 in revenue.

Stella’s Circle, a St. John's organization that helps adults remove barriers to participating in their community, operate four social enterprises in St. John’s. One of their most well-known operations, Hungry Heart Café, provides culinary training and a supported employment program. In 2021-22 fiscal year, 43 people were employed across all their social enterprises and 20 more people transitioned to the competitive job market. 

The St. John’s Tool Library is a newer social enterprise that operates on a Membership model, lending tools to people who want to create, make, build, and grow a project. The St. John’s Tool Library has become a hub of the Do It Yourself (DIY) community for those at all levels of experience, from veteran DYIers to someone working on a first project. Visit stjohnstoollibrary.ca or stop by during their open hours to learn more.

Social enterprises, not-for-profits, charities and co‑operatives are key contributors to the economy in St. John’s and Atlantic Canada. They are at the forefront of tackling Canada’s persistent social, environmental and economic challenges and create a positive space for the communities they serve.

City Initiatives

Applications open for City’s Community Grants 

Annually, the City of St. John’s provides funding for important projects through a variety of grant programsApplications are now being accepted for the Community Grants program, which provides financial assistance to organizations and individuals whose applications align with the City’s strategic directions. Over $1.7 million in funding is available in the following categories: Arts Organizations, Community Groups & Organizations, Special Events & Festivals, Sporting Groups & Organizations, and Individual Artists. The deadline to apply and submit required attachments for Community and Capital Grants is November 24 at 4 pm.

News Briefing

Tech is making waves in Newfoundland and Labrador

TechNL, a not-for-profit industry association representing the technology and innovation sector, launched a new campaign Tech is Making Waves in Newfoundland and Labrador. The campaign highlights some of the people powering our province’s dynamic, diverse tech community. To learn more, visit findyourfuturenl.ca     

Hiring and retaining foreign talent in St. John's

On Tuesday, November 28th from 9am – 11am Immigration, Refugees & Citizenship Canada is inviting employers to gather for an information session at City Hall to provide information on how hiring foreign talent can help address labour shortages in your business. The event is hosted in partnership with Newfoundland & Labrador’s Department of Immigration, Population Growth, and Skills (IPGS) along with the City of St. John’s. The Association for New Canadians will also be present to offer insight on their settlement services. Topics covered at the event will include

  • How to hire temporary foreign workers and the work permit process.
  • How to hire international students and how to retain them after they graduate.
  • Resources to help you find skilled workers faster.
  • Permanent residence pathways available to allow workers stay in Canada long-term.


Register at eventbrite.ca.

Carbon capture CCUS Innovation Challenge

In an effort to maximize and accelerate the decarbonization of Newfoundland and Labrador’s offshore through the development of carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS), the government of Newfoundland and Labrador has announced a new CCUS Innovation Challenge. The government is looking for expressions of interest from companies, organizations, and researchers in two areas. It’s making $3 million available to support research and development to advance CCUS (carbon capture, utilization and storage) to decarbonize ongoing offshore oil production, and another $3 million to support feasibility studies into storage of carbon dioxide from further afield (e.g. the rest of Canada or abroad). 

At a Glance

Maclean's magazine says the City of St. John's is one of the best places to visit in Canada right now and we agree! The Great Escapes:10 Places to Visit in Canada Right Now

Photograph by iStock.

Quidi Vidi Village Artisans Studios in St. John's offers premium studio space at affordable rates. Apply today: www.annatempletoncentre.ca. 

Wondering how the future population may look? Did you know the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has published population projections for St. John's metro? Population projections can inform on trends that impact services and business opportunities. View the projections here.

Making connections with community organizations is important to newcomer retention.

The St. John's Local Immigration Partnership and the City of St. John's held another successful My New St. John’s Expo at the St. John’s Community Market. Read the full story.

Congratulations to St. John’s based PolyUnity Tech Inc on being named Company of the Year by CAN Health Network. PolyUnity uses agile manufacturing to make products rapidly for hospitals and was formed four years ago by three Memorial University med students to 3D print medical simulation models. Learn more here.

Government of Canada Business Supports

Women Entrepreneurship Strategy

The Government of Canada has announced increased funding and action around female entrepreneurship. The Women Entrepreneurship Strategy aims to increase women-owned businesses' access to the financing, talent, networks and expertise they need to start up, scale up and access new markets.

Find data on women entrepreneurs at the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub.

Upcoming Courses and Events

Book your spot!

Nov 7-8 Mining Needs You Virtual Career Fair

Nov 14 Funding panel featuring: Futurpreneur, Sandpiper Ventures, Springboard Atlantic, and Mitacs

Nov 14-17 Seafood Industry Innovation Summit 2023

Nov 15 Genesis Pitch and Pick Invitational

Nov 16 Memorial Centre for Entrepreneurship Illuminate 2023: Live Finals

Nov 16 Employer Immigration Virtual Fair: Europe, Central Asia

Nov 16 econext Training Course: ESG Strategies and Tactics for SMEs

Nov 17-18 North Atlantic Fish & Workboat Show

Nov 23 St. John’s Board of Trade Business Awards Gala

Nov 27 CSCNL Well-Being Community Fair

Nov 28 Hiring and retaining foreign talent

Nov 30 Public Artwork Opportunity - Deadline for Request for Proposals for a central 3D Suspended Artwork for New Adult Mental Health & Addictions facility in St. John’s

Questions About Starting a Business

Our knowledgeable staff are here to help

Starting a new business is a busy and exciting time, and requires careful planning. Here at the City of St. John's Business Information Centre, we know our way around town and we'd be happy to connect you to the programs, resources and contacts you need to help make it happen. Get in touch. We're here to help.

We'd love to hear from you

Do you have a good St. John's business news story to tell? Do you have feedback on what you would like to see covered in our monthly publication? Send your ideas to advantage@stjohns.ca

Latest Economic Indicators

City building permits

as of October 31, 2023

Commercial permits

Up 6% from $97,107,073 in 2022 to $102,658,324 in 2023

Industrial permits

Valued at $351,000 for 2022 and $190,000 for 2023

Government/institutional permits

Up from $1,980,468 in 2022 to $6,628,336 in 2023*

Residential permits

Up 19% to $75,900,722 for 2023 over $63,714,694 for 2022

Repair permits

Down -1% from $1,515,416 in 2022 to $1,503,611 in 2023

Total value of all permits for 2023

Up 13% to $186,880,993 for 2023 over $164,668,651 for 2022

*This data does not include the full range of permit activity undertaken by the provincial government and Memorial University.

Business approvals

Popcorn NL, 355 Main Road

Used car sales, 300 Torbay Road

Smoodie Bowls NL, 32 George St.

Salon & Spa, 170 St. Clare Avenue

ShockFree Electrical, 24A Mews Place

Ascend Health, 516 Topsail Road

Sparkes Homes, 10 Austin Street

Ricoh Canada, 136 Crosbie Road

Fabulous Gifts and Home Décor, 48 Kenmount Road

Charmed Aroma, 48 Kenmount Road

Turf's Up Sports, 55 Hebron Way

Indian food, 279 Portugal Cove Road

Newfoundland Canvas, 48 Kenmount Road

Pet Value, 39 Rowan Street 

Home-based businesses

Jay Electric, 18 Hoyles Avenue

Family childcare, 270A Newfoundland Drive

Family childcare,9 Glenlonan Street

Total business approvals for 2023 = 174 (regular = 139 and home-based = 35)

Labour force characteristics as of October 2023

Labour force – 125,000 (down -0.1%)

Unemployment rate – 6.6% (up 0.3ppts)

Employment – 116,700 (down -0.4%)

Participation rate – 65.2% (down -2.2ppts)

St. John's CMA, seasonally adjusted, three-month moving average. Percentage change reflects the same month previous year. Source: Statistics Canada.

Economic indicators

The New Housing Price Index for St. John’s Metro was 106.9 in September 2023 (up 1.2%*)

The Consumer Price Index for St. John’s Metro was 159.7 in September 2023 (up 4.4%*) 

Retail trade for Newfoundland and Labrador was $958 million in August 2023 (down -0.1%*)

*St. John's CMA, same month in the previous year. Source: Statistics Canada

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