Business goals

Programs to achieve your small business goals in 2022

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New is the perfect time for budding entrepreneurs as well as established business owners to think about their business concept and plan for growth opportunities.

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Invest WindsorEssex’s Small Business & Entrepreneurship Center (SBEC) is seeing renewed interest in January from new and existing clients looking to take their business to the next level. Throughout 2022, SBEC is offering several programs focused on pre-income, starting and scaling small businesses in Windsor-Essex. Here is an overview of its upcoming programs and important dates to remember. Full program details are available at webbusinesscentre.com/programs.

Digital Main Street

Since 2019, SBEC has offered the Digital Main Street (DMS) program to small businesses in Windsor-Essex. The center employs a Digital Services Team – a team of digital marketers who provide one-on-one assistance to small brick-and-mortar businesses to help them grow their digital presence and adopt new technologies.

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Their services, which are part of the DMS program, also include helping businesses apply for a $2,500 digital transformation grant from DMS. The recent round of Digital Transformation Grants ended last November, but is expected to return in 2022. The Digital Services team continues to meet with eligible small businesses in Windsor-Essex free of charge.

Food Entrepreneur Advantage

Ontario’s food and beverage manufacturing sector is the third largest in North America, and there are more than 100 food and beverage processing companies in Windsor-Essex.

The Foodpreneur Advantage program provides support to small food and beverage processors in southwestern Ontario. The program includes a series of introductory seminars and training opportunities to support entrepreneurs looking to enter the industry.

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There’s also the Foodpreneur Advantage Scale-Up program, a comprehensive 10-week training and mentorship program for companies that produce consumer packaged goods and have demonstrated high potential to scale their operations. The program connects entrepreneurs with industry experts and mentorship opportunities and offers them the chance to receive a $5,000 business grant.

Introductory seminars begin January 20, and Foodpreneur Advantage Scale-Up returns in March.

Developing Creative Careers: Windsor and Area

SBEC has partnered with WorkInCulture and the Arts Council Windsor & Region to deliver the Growing Creative Careers: Windsor & Region program. Growing Creative Careers is an intensive professional development experience for artists, creatives and cultural workers living in Windsor-Essex. Applications close January 20 for Cohort 2: Building Better Boards, which aims to support, develop and sustain healthy boards in our local arts organizations.

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The program provides participants with workshops, access to online resources and local experts, and peer mentoring circles. The program is offered annually until 2023.

Reinvent this space

SBEC and the Municipality of Leamington have launched the Reinvent This Space competition to support local small businesses, stimulate economic development and revitalize Leamington’s downtown commercial district. Participants in the Reinvent This Space program receive business development training, mentorship and a chance to present a $15,000 grant. The grant helps a contractor rent for 12 months in a vacant storefront in downtown Leamington.

Applications close on January 21 and the program will run until the end of March.

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Starter Company PLUS

Since 2015, SBEC has delivered Starter Company PLUS to Windsor-Essex. This Ontario government program is for people interested in starting, growing or buying a small business. The program offers a grant of up to $5,000 as well as access to training, mentoring, networking and one-on-one counseling support.

The program will run in the fall of 2022 and applications will open in late summer.

summer company

Summer Company is an Ontario government program offered locally by SBEC since 2001. It provides high school and post-secondary students with the resources and training needed to start a new summer business. Full-time students, ages 15 to 29, receive hands-on business training, guidance and mentorship from local business leaders, and a grant of up to $3,000.

Applications for Summer Company are accepted between January and May and the program runs from June to August.

Natasha Marar is Manager, Marketing and Entrepreneurship Programs at the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Centre.