Tuesday, March 28, 2017

New Program Supports Youth and Senior Entrepreneurs

Courtesy of the City of Williams Lake:

A new program for Williams Lake residents is now available to create new business development. The Seeding Start-Ups Pilot Project is aimed at providing “seed” money for youth and seniors interested in starting a business in the city.

Contributions range from $1000-$1500 based on approval of a business plan presented to the Seeding Start-Ups Review Panel. The Review Panel is comprised of members of the program Steering Committee, which includes Community Futures of the Cariboo Chilcotin, the Williams Lake and District Chamber of Commerce, Williams Lake Business Improvement Association, Thompson Rivers University, and the City of Williams Lake.

“We are pleased that Williams Lake has been selected by the Province of BC’s Rural Dividend Initiative to run this pilot program” says Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb. “We have a unique opportunity to provide support to fledgling businesses, and are optimistic that we will see an increase in owner/operator enterprises as a result. Small businesses assist in economic growth and help to invigorate the local economy, so this is a great program for our community.”

The program is aimed at growth in two demographics, youth and seniors. “To qualify for the program, we are looking for business start-ups from youth aged 19 to 29, and the 50+ age group.” says Steering Committee member Karen Eden, General Manager of Community Futures. “Generally, these are two demographics that contribute significantly to the economy, but their participation lags behind other population groups when it comes to entrepreneurship.”

The 50+ group was identified as having significant potential to create business growth based on a similar program based in Australia. The “Seniorpreneur” concept is growing in popularity based on the increased number of people, although retired from the workforce, who are still vibrant and active.

“We want to get the message out to retired or nearly retired people to think about what kind of business they could possibly operate that would make a difference to their lives and household income but also as a contribution to our community, particularly the downtown business area” say Williams Lake BIA Executive Director Kate Lines. “Many people have a dream of operating their own company, and the seed money available could be the boost needed to make that dream a reality.”

To be eligible for the program, applicants must be a resident of Williams Lake, and plan on operating within city limits. “Generally speaking, we are looking for growth in the City of Williams Lake, but mostly we want to support the creation of new enterprises, so if you have an idea, we encourage you to speak with our coordinator, Beth Veenkamp” says Mayor Cobb. “Her job is to assist applicants in the development and planning stage of a new venture so that when they pitch their business it has a good chance of being approved by the Review Panel.”

Seeding Start-Ups coordinator Beth Veenkamp is available to answer questions and provide more information on the program. If you are considering entrepreneurship, contact her at 250-392-8480 or email bveenkamp@williamslake.ca

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