Deadline is May 19 for students to launch a summer business

“Summer Company” offers training and up to $3k in start-up grants

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High school and university students eager for financial independence have until May 19 to take advantage of “Summer Company.”

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The provincial program run out of the Business Enterprise Centre in Timmins provides start up grants, business training and mentorship to young entrepreneurs between the ages of 15 to 29.

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“The program aims to test drive entrepreneurship in a low barrier and low risk scenario,” said Mike Scott, a business development consultant with the centre.

“Some of the biggest success stories of this program are the students who have continued their businesses for many years and are continuing to grow year after year,” he said.

A notable success story is Cameron Lemire. The 21-year-old started his landscaping business, CL Lawn Care, in the summer of 2018 when he was 15 and going into Grade 10.

“Every year, we slowly grow more and more,” Lemire said from London on Wednesday, where he has just completed his last exam for his BA in Kinesiology from Western University.

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“When I started we had eight clients, and last year we were up to about 120 yards a week,” he said, adding that he’ll be up to four employees and two crews this summer, with the additional truck and trailer they were able to purchase.

“This summer is going to be big for us,” Lemire said.

Lemire ran the company every summer throughout university, which allowed him to virtually cover the cost of his education, and save for the future.

The Summer Company program’s start-up grant and ongoing support gave Lemire the motivation to start and stick with his business. He learned to register his business’s name and that he needed insurance.

“They were big with getting me set up on the legal side and helping me commit to trying it for a year, as opposed to just thinking about it and not actually pushing through with it,” he said.

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Mylène Coulombe-Gratton from Hearst is another major success story, said Scott.

She started her adventure tourism company, Follow Her North, with the help of the Summer Company program. She runs outdoor summer camps for kids, snowmobile tours on the James Bay Coast and many other adventures in the region.

“So that’s been really cool to see that grow and be featured in a lot of different Francophone news publications,” Scott said. “She purchased a former general store and converted it into a bed and breakfast for visitors.”

Mike Scott
Mike Scott, business development consultant at the Business Enterprise Centre, speaks March 5 at the International Women’s Day luncheon hosted by the Timmins Chamber of Commerce at the Porcupine Dante Club. Scott spoke Wednesday with The Daily Press about the Centre’s Summer Company program, which offers aspiring student entrepreneurs from aged 15-29 the chance to be financially independent running their own businesses in the summer. The deadline to apply is May 19. NICOLE STOFFMAN/THE DAILY PRESS

Despite the name, Summer Company is not just for summer businesses.

“It just happens that seasonal businesses tend to be popular in summer company because they’re kind of easy to set up in some cases, like, for example, we see a lot of landscaping businesses come through summer company,” Scott said

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“But there are also full-fledged, year round businesses like perhaps in aesthetics or in food and beverage. It could really be a product or service. It could be seasonal or year round,” he said, adding that the program has helped start many businesses in Timmins and district since 2001.

One concern Scott has heard from parents is that becoming an entrepreneur comes with too much risk, and could delay their child’s financial independence.

While starting a business is a risk, Scott said the program mitigates that risk by accepting applicants with the strongest business plans, while helping them to create that plan.

Applicants receive training and support, working with a business development consultant to develop a full business plan and cash flow projection for the summer.

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Successful applicants can receive a $1,500 start-up grant and another $1,500 once they complete the program requirements. Businesses can be profitable in their first summer, Scott said.

This year, an additional spot in the program has opened up thanks to a grant from the Ministry of Economic Development Job Creation and Trade for a total of 7 spots.

“We do weekly follow up consultations with them to determine if they’re having any operational challenges or having trouble making sales, and we’ll try to support them through those challenges,” Scott said.

“I wouldn’t say it’s completely risk free, but it is highly mitigated risk and highly supported throughout the duration of the program.”

Summer program also coaches participants on their marketing strategy, encouraging them to zero in on their target market and its appropriate social media platform, and helping them to develop targeted ads, if needed.

Scott says social media is just one small piece of a marketing strategy.

Interest in the program, open to students between the ages of 15 and 29, has been strong this year, with 18 inquiries and six submissions so far, Scott said.

Applicants have until May 19 to submit their application. The program runs 12 weeks for post-secondary students and 8 weeks for high-school students.

For more information, contact James Parisi, business development consultant, at [email protected] or 705-360-2657.

 

 

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