Thursday, June 22, 2017

Seeding Start-Up awards more $$$

Courtesy of the City of Williams Lake:

Another round of successful applicants pitched their business plans and were approved for funding at the latest Seeding Start-Up Review Panel.

The Review Panel, made up of the jointly funded Project Partners included representatives from Downtown Williams Lake BIA, Community Futures of Cariboo Chilcotin, Thompson Rivers University, Williams Lake and Area Chamber of Commerce and City of Williams Lake.

Courtney Vreeman is the owner of Creatively Courtney. As a new Start-Up, Vreeman was eligible for a contribution of up to $1500 from the Youth category of the Seeding Program. Creatively Courtney is a design business creating customized designs on a variety of different materials including wine glasses, t-shirts, ceramics and wood. Vreeman also has a robust business hosting paint nights at CJ’s Restaurant and for private functions like bridal showers.

As a mother of two young children, Vreeman finds that being an entrepreneur works well for her lifestyle, saying “having my own business allows me to work mostly from home around what works for my kids.” Vreeman’s plan for the seed contribution is to purchase a heat press that will allow her to create her products more efficiently. “I am really grateful for this program and that I was able to take the Community Futures Business Plan Workshop,” say Vreeman, “It got me to look at the big picture of where I want to take my business in the future, and was very eye-opening”.

The second successful applicant was Al-Lisa McKay, owner of Miss White Spider Arts. Qualifying in the aboriginal entrepreneur category, McKay has been taking steps to move her “hobby” into a full-time business. Miss White Spider Arts provides multi-media art productions and is becoming increasingly known for Shadow Puppetry productions. She has a full line up of festivals booked for the summer months, and in the winter plans to promote herself as a unique and fun interactive party experience. As a trained ECE, McKay wants to bring her work to children through the robust birthday party market and expose them to the ancestral messages of the many different cultures found in her shows.

“One of the exciting things about participating in both the Community Futures Self Employment Program and the Seeding Start-Up Program is that I have hit a milestone where now I am getting sought out for work rather than having to seek it out.” says McKay.

With an unforgettable name, Miss White Spider, was hired by Downtown Williams Lake to
provide instruction and inspiration to the community through free Chalk Art Workshops in anticipation of Downtown Williams Lake’s Chalk Art Festival scheduled for July 1st as part of the Four Directions Festival. McKay intends on using her $1000 contribution from the Seeding Start-Up Program to produce CD’s for sale, and for printing of promotional materials. “This is making a big difference to me in being able to produce high quality materials that will allow me to market and promote myself.”

The Horticulture Club from Lake City Secondary also successfully pitched to the review panel. As a student-run business, they were eligible for a $1500 contribution that will go towards building a new greenhouse that will be located at the Williams Lake Campus of Lake City Secondary. The business, called “Lake City Grow Operators”, is an extracurricular club that grows plants in the biology lab under the guidance of teacher Jennifer Anderson.

“Being able to build a greenhouse will give us a better space to grow a better product,” says student entrepreneur Tannis Thompson.

Currently the business sells hanging baskets, flowers, tomato plants, and vegetables. Their product is on display in the store fronts of some commercial businesses around town. Profits from the group go back into the business for supplies, and they also fund different sports teams for travel for out of town tournaments. As social entrepreneurs, the seed money will give them a boost to continue to grow more, so that they can sell more and give back more.

“It is a multifaceted program that is run by volunteer students to fund extra-curricular events for other students, it has an environmental approach to growing, provides students exposure to aspects of business and provides a local product to the community,” explains Anderson. The greenhouse and new grow tables are scheduled for construction in the fall, and will enlist the help of the trades-construction program to build it. “I am excited about the seed money that is funding a project that involves cross-curricular programs. It will help build school community and provide opportunities
for the new provincial curriculum of project-based learning. The future goal is to expand our operation to include fresh produce to the culinary arts program. There are many directions this could go, including a course option for students to get graduation credits,” says Anderson.

Participants have been working with Seeding Start-Up Coordinator Beth Veenkamp to get ready for the Pitch Presentations, and for mentorship after the cheques are cashed and the work of running the business continues. “My role is to work with participants to provide whatever support they require to run a successful business. With my ability to connect people to other business mentors in the community, their ongoing association with the strong team at Community Futures, as well as provide my own feedback, participants have a lot of support to get through that initial hump of start-up.”

If you have a business idea that you would like to grow, contact the Seeding Start-Ups Coordinator, Beth Veenkamp at 250-392-8480

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