New Entrepreneurship Program Announced
Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission (CEDC), along with the Ministry of Economic Development and Growth (MEDG) announced a call for applications to the new Starter Company Plus program.Starter Company Plus is open to entrepreneurs over the age of 18 will
provide one-to-one counseling with the program coordinator as well as informative workshops for participants to learn from local experts how to effectively start or expand their businesses. Participants have the opportunity to apply for a grant of up to $5,000 upon the completion of a business plan and receive mentorship from local business and community leaders.
It is the follow up to the Starter Company program, which provided comprehensive training to 178 entrepreneurs between the ages of 18-29 during the last three years. Of those businesses, 51 accessed grant funding and were paired with a mentor.
“We’ve had a lot of success with Starter Company, and we have even higher expectations for Starter Company Plus given that the program does not have an age restriction,” tells Ryan Moore, Development Officer for the Thunder Bay CEDC/Thunder Bay & District Entrepreneur Centre. “I’ve seen many entrepreneurs pass through the program who are now operating profitable businesses, and a lot of that is attributable to the running start they got from Starter Company. Our hope is that Starter Company Plus will assist a broader group of entrepreneurs and have an even bigger impact on Thunder Bay and surrounding communities.”
Bill Mauro, Minister of Northern Development and Mines says, “The original program proved to be very successful, and I’m particularly proud of local volunteers who were dedicated to mentoring and training
the next generation of entrepreneurs. Together, the Starter Company and Starter Company Plus Programs encourage area youth and all residents to fulfil their dreams of becoming successful business owners. At the same time, they are stimulating economic development and building the spirit of entrepreneurship in our community.”
New, existing, and aspiring entrepreneurs who want to start, grow, or buy business can apply to the Starter Company Plus program at www.EntrepreneurCentre.ca.
Ryan Tarabocchia, age 30 is the owner of Northwest Gourmet Mushrooms and has been in business about 1 year and longer growing mushrooms. Before that he was building and prepping his business plan and started selling May 2016.
“ We are out in Lappe. We are selling to restaurants and trying to work our way into grocers and back into the farmers market. We just started offering grow kits as well.”
“ Two years before this I was working a construction job but had some spinal surgery and had to try something else.”
“ Our mushrooms are as fresh as you can get and we have a wider variety of mushrooms that aren’t available in town, say too fragile to ship.I got sick of working for other people and want to make my own dream come true in a good and bad way. It has been pretty rough starting out with 2 kids with ups and down but we are keeping going. We’re really good at scraping by.”
Doug Murray, CEO CEDC
“ The new program is for any age group over 18 to buy a business, expand a business or start a business. The government sets the rules for number of companies and grants. We have had very diverse group of businesses in the past with tourism, manufacturing, health care and food so that helps. They are very small with 1 or 2 employees but may grow.”
“ In Thunder Bay 90 % of the people employed are in small and medium sized businesses. This is where the growth will come from. We want to help the older business people sell their companies to the next generation as well. Health care for instance represents about 17% of the employees in Thunder Bay right now with more room to grow with many vacancies.”
“ The higher age group allowed in the new program will help with more applicants. It is a great opportunity. The training is important and then you write a business plan. A most important part of what we do are the mentors and we would like to have more mentors as it is the key to this program. Their experience is so important to help a new business succeed.”