Building a Case for a Downtown, Hostel-Based, Social and Economic Enterprise
The purpose of this study was to examine the potential establishment of a social/economic hostel-based venture that would serve multiple needs of diversification and economic growth from a social perspective in Prince George, British Columbia, Canada. To examine the viability of the initiative, multiple methods of data collection were conducted including structured literature review, interviews with hostel member organizations and hostel owners, an environmental scan, and stakeholder input. The literature indicates that a large network of hostels exist worldwide, with a variety of different concepts, bed capacities, and amenities. Presently, there were none that would be classified as social/economic enterprises. An environmental scan indicated only one similar model to the proposed initiative; a motel-based financially viable venture staffed by disadvantaged groups that had demonstrated positive social outcomes. Key informant interviews of local representatives suggest relatively strong support for such a venture. However, a number of barriers were identified that included funding and sustainability. While a number of favourable conditions existed that would support a hostel including recent trends towards increased tourism in the area, several indirect competitors such as low cost motels and student housing-based summer accommodation may impede the development and growth of the proposed initiative. In summary, it is recommended that prior to implementing the proposed initiative a clear vision for the downtown of Prince George be established to ensure the enterprise fits into the overall revitalization strategy.
Keywords: Social Economic Enterprise, Business Case, Social Entrepreneurship, Disadvantaged People
Karen M. Davison
PhD Candidate, Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary