Urban exodus a boon for hybrid communications agency
Written by Carl Michener, Tech Hub North
Interkom finds a new home and new potential in Collingwood, Ontario
Ontario, and indeed Canada, are seeing record numbers of people move out of cities. That’s great news for Interkom, a hybrid marketing agency looking to expand into some of the areas that catch these newcomers.
In January 2021, Statistics Canada reported that Toronto posted a record loss of 50,375 people between July 2019 and July 2020 as a result of movement to other regions including Springwater, Simcoe, Muskoka and Collingwood, a town that Maclean’s Magazine ranked as one of the “best Canadian communities”.
With population growth expected to continue in these regions, it’s no surprise that Interkom’s value proposition is finding purchase here. Spanning marketing, fundraising, strategy and design, Interkom has carved a niche for itself by serving the types of municipalities that are currently attracting hordes of city dwellers. The company’s virtual structure makes it uniquely poised to help those municipalities embrace the future and their newfound population by going digital.“Municipalities and companies are placing their emphasis on digital, because they know that’s where the future is,” says Kayla van Zon, co-owner of Interkom. van Zon took the company her father founded in 1981 virtual 2 years ago. When the coronavirus pandemic hit, there was no adjustment required by her team because they were used to working virtually. Along with her business partner, Lee, she now manages a team of 10 full-time employees and contractors using project management platforms like Trello, Asana and Airtable.
Interkom has raised millions for organizations across Ontario through their fundraising efforts. Their work has often contributed to the development of cultural infrastructure in municipalities, such as the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre in St. Catharines. Interkom raised over $7 million to help build the Centre and has since completed other projects in web design, digital marketing and fundraising for municipalities like Markham, Burlington, Pelham and Aurora.
van Zon herself recently moved to Collingwood, which she describes as “a nice change of pace”. She’s met like-minded businesspeople as a member of The Foundry, a coworking space and community for entrepreneurs located on Collingwood’s main street. “I’ve met quite a few tech entrepreneurs here,” says van Zon “The pandemic has encouraged businesses to become more tech-savvy, which has definitely benefitted many of us.”
The Collingwood Foundry itself is in a growth phase, much like the municipalities that van Zon serves. It offers a work-outside-the-home alternative that allows some of Ontario’s brightest entrepreneurs to build and grow their businesses in a supportive, creative community. “The Foundry is a great place to be,” says van Zon. “They care about you and care about your business, unlike other places where you’re just a means to an end.”
With much of Canada continuing to stay separate until COVID-19 is a thing of the past, Interkom is working to support the municipal organizations that connect people in the northern regions of central Ontario. van Zon hopes to establish partnerships in Simcoe, Grey Bruce and Muskoka, and has come to live now in one of the communities she serves. Not only does Collingwood make a great home base for her technologically-savvy company, but van Zon also enjoys the authentic connections she’s made with other individuals who are shaping the future.