Nhulsenbuy, Que., was one of the first neighbourhoods to be designated a “special economic zone” by the federal government for the purpose of boosting economic activity.
The Liquor Store on Lorne Avenue opened in March, and has now served more than 50,000 customers and generated $5.8 million in tax revenue since opening.
The business, owned by former mayor Brian Jean, was originally set to close its doors in September, but Jean has vowed to keep it open for the long haul.
“I believe it’s important to keep this as a special economic zone, because we have a population that’s growing, that has a strong community spirit, and it’s been very successful,” Jean said.
“So we want to keep the business here, we want people to come in here.”
Nhulsensa is one of six “special” economic zones established in the Greater Toronto Area to provide tax breaks to businesses that operate in the downtown core, the GTA’s most populated neighbourhood.
The zones have the effect of giving local governments an incentive to expand, grow or relocate businesses in their neighbourhoods, said Andrew Haggarty, director of policy studies at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
“You see this in places like Kitchener, Waterloo, and Toronto,” he said.
The Lorne area, in particular, is undergoing a renaissance, said Haggyser, who also chairs the city’s economic development and business advisory committee.
It’s seen a significant growth in the number of businesses and in the quality of life.
Haggysers said it’s also a unique place, with a large number of jobs and people who are highly educated.
“The city’s job creation has really been going up and up,” he added.
“When we have new businesses, they have a greater ability to absorb new workers, and they have greater ability not to lose their jobs because of the economy.
That’s what’s happening here.”
While the business has seen an influx of people, it has also seen an increase in staff.
“We’ve been working on the payroll for almost a year now, so we’re seeing that, too, but it’s not just the people we’ve hired,” Jean explained.
“It’s also our staff members.
We’ve got a number of people who have been here for the last three years and they’ve been here longer than anyone else, so they’ve definitely been with us for the past three years.”
The store, which opened on the corner of Leach Street and Nhules Street, has been a favourite of local people.
The neighbourhood was designated a special economy zone in 2012, but the Liquor Stores in the zone did not receive the same designation.
“Our customers, the residents of Nhula, they really enjoyed that.
They liked the quality, the atmosphere, and that’s why they’re coming back,” Jean continued.
“It’s going to be a long road to make sure we’re doing everything we can to keep them here.”
The Liquors Stores are located on a vacant lot that formerly housed a grocery store, as well as the former Bienstock’s restaurant and convenience store.
“These are the nicest, best-loved locations in the neighbourhood,” said Jean.
“We have to give them a chance.”