The summer company program supports young local entrepreneurs


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Four budding entrepreneurs get some real experience in running their own business within the 23.rd the company’s annual summer program.

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Hannah McInnis, Logan Mitchell, Keogh Scott and Zyler Morningstar are the four Lambton County youth selected to participate in this year’s iteration of the long-running annual program – a joint initiative between the Economic Partnership and the Department of Economic Development, Jobs and Trade. It takes place for 12 weeks.

Participants selected for the program – middle and high school students between the ages of 15 and 29 – receive a $3,000 grant to start their business, as well as mentoring and training, in person and online.

The purpose of the program is to encourage young entrepreneurs to turn their business ideas into reality, providing them with invaluable experience and relevant information that will give them the confidence to create and run a business.

Young people are introduced to concepts such as marketing, how to manage budgets and how to successfully grow a business in a very low-risk environment, said Chantelle Core, manager of SLEP’s Business Enterprise Centre.

The goal is not to get students to drop out of school, but to introduce them to the basics of owning their own business so that entrepreneurship becomes a tangible alternative for them in the future, she said.

“We want to plant the seed now that entrepreneurship is an option, so that down the road, when they mature in their career and have an idea, they can look back and remember that they can be self-employed, they can start a business and they can be job creators in the community . That’s the goal,” Core said. “The province is playing the long game to plant those seeds early and give those young people the resources and experience to make sure when they’re at the right stage in life to pursue it.”

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“It’s really rewarding to watch them grow as entrepreneurs and start to see the pieces of the puzzle come together as to how the decisions they make impact their business.”

While COVID-19 caused major disruptions elsewhere, the program kept ticking throughout the pandemic, Core said.

“Actually, it didn’t affect the program much at all,” she said. “The only thing they’ve affected is meetings and we’ve gone virtual. It’s actually worked so well that we’re going to keep it going – with the age and the entrepreneurs being spread out across the county, they don’t need to come to our office all the time, so we’re offering hybrid meetings this year.”

Over the past two-plus decades of the program’s run in Lambton County, numerous program participants have used their training and experience to drive growth in the county, Core said.

“We have a lot of success stories and each one is unique,” she said. “Some (participants) didn’t keep their jobs, but the way they were able to use that experience to become amazing employees and be really motivated and move up the corporate ladder because they have that entrepreneurial mindset, that was incredible. In other cases, they maintained and grew their businesses or pursued other business ideas.”

In addition to running a business and providing ongoing support, attendees will also be able to participate in networking opportunities with other entrepreneurs and attendees from previous years to further expand their awareness, Core said.

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The program is a great opportunity for young entrepreneurs and the sooner they apply, the better, she said.

“I would encourage students who are interested in the program to get in touch early, even in the winter in February, to start talking about their ideas because the program can fill up pretty quickly,” she said. “It’s a great idea to start the conversation with us early so we can help develop their ideas.”

For more information about the summer company program, visit www.sarnialambton.on.ca/starting-a-business/summer-company or contact Chantelle Core at chantelle@sarnialambton.on.ca or by phone at 519-332-1820.

This year’s four youth enterprises include:

My Nurtured Self (Hannah McInnis) – an eco-conscious, handcrafted and poured body care and candle brand. The products are created using raw materials from local Canadian companies in mind, and McInnis aims to satisfy those who crave sustainable alternatives in their daily routine – the products will be available in local markets during the summer.

Zyler’s Lawn Car (Zyler Morningstar) – Corunna area lawn care company that helps those in need of yard, lawn and garden maintenance, including services such as grass cutting, fertilizing, lawn rolling and leaf raking/baling. The company has been operating since May and will continue until the beginning of October.

79 Below (Logan Mitchell) – A mobile ice cream and frozen treat stand driven by owner Logan Mitchell through the streets and parks of Watford. Providing a nostalgic experience for older audiences and excitement for kids, 79 Below will be the only fully stocked, mobile ice cream service to operate in Watford this summer, running until mid-September.

KS Lawncare (Keogh Scott) – A Sarnia-based lawn care and yard cleaning company specializing in grass mowing, trimming, spring cleaning and fall leaf removal, Scott launched KS Lawncare in early May and plans to offer its wide range of services by the end of September /early October.

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