Jeff Heuchert email@example.com
The City of Stratford is investing in a provincial grant program that will support local people between the ages of 18-29 who want to start or expand a full-time business.
Government grants of up to $5,000 will be provided to approved applicants for training, mentorship and seed financing through Starter Company, a funding program offered by the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment.
The program was developed out of the government's $295 million youth job strategy announced in the 2013 budget and will be facilitated locally by the Stratford/Perth Centre for Business, whose staff will additionally provide training to grant recipients that helps guide them through the start-up phase of their businesses.
A motion for the mayor and CAO to execute a three-year Starter Company agreement with the province was approved by the Economic Development subcommittee last week. It still requires council's final stamp of approval.
"It's a great opportunity to offer start-up funds," Kris LaCourse, a business advisor at the Centre for Business, says.
What's exciting about the Starter Company program, she notes, is there's nothing else like it in the area for young entrepreneurs looking for that little extra help to get their business off the ground.
"As a business advisor, the first question we get from clients is, what grants are available? And there really aren't a lot," she adds, noting until now staff have only been able to direct clients to other resources to search for grant opportunities.
The province will provide up to $80,000 to the Centre for Business over the life or the program. The money will be used for administration costs, marketing, and staffing. The city has committed approximately $37,000 of in-kind contributions from the Centre for Business.
LaCourse says successful applicants will go through an intensive training that includes business planning, workshops, and regular meetings with staff and a mentor selected from a pool of local business owners with expertise in specific areas like accounting and marketing.
"We do give them a lot of experience," says LaCourse. "They're not just given the money and (told) off you go."