Photo By: The City of St. Catharines

The St. Catharines Enterprise Centre (SCEC) is preparing for the return of this year’s Starter Company Plus program that provides a series of support to eligible entrepreneurs. 

Starter Company Plus is a provincially-funded program that provides business training, mentorship and grants of up to $5,000 to local entrepreneurs looking to successfully launch their own businesses. Since 2013 the centre has assisted 100 new businesses through the program. Of those 100 businesses, 88 still operate, providing a total of over 200 local jobs.

“There’s a lot to account for when starting a business, a lot of moving parts between an entrepreneur’s dreams and the reality of opening doors, especially as we move out of a period of uncertainty,” said Rob Belchior, Small Business Consultant at the SCEC. “The Starter Company Plus program really bridges the gap between passion, vision and the reality of opening a business. It’s a chance to learn from small business leaders who have faced the same challenges and overcome them to achieve success.”

Designed to support entrepreneurs at the start-up phase or within their first year of operation, Starter Company Plus is funded through the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, and is available to those over the age of 18 to apply for. Eligible applicants will be invited to participate in business training and will be coached on the development of a business plan. The program also offers a series of seminars that seek to help demystify the marketing and sales process, explain financial forecasting, teach how to set attainable goals and more. After participants complete the program, they become eligible to pitch their businesses for a limited number of additional grants. 

Entrepreneurs who meet the eligibility requirements listed on the Starter Company Plus web page are able to complete an online application form up until Monday, Oct. 4. Eligible entrepreneurs will be contacted within 24 hours and invited to attend an intake session with the SCEC. Applicants will then have to submit a completed business model canvas and resume with cover letter by Friday, Oct. 8. The SCEC will extend an invitation to successful applicants to register for and attend required business training. Those that successfully complete the training and meet all requirements will be invited to apply for the available grants.

Before signing up, interested business owners are encouraged to participate in one of two upcoming information sessions that will be held virtually by the SCEC on Sept. 16 and 23. These seminars are free to attend. 

While most Brock students will not be able to benefit from the program, students who are studying part-time no more than 12 hours per week are eligible to apply.

Beyond the Starter Company Plus program, the SCEC routinely hosts seminars and workshops to provide the information, resources, and tools entrepreneurs need to start and grow a business. Most of these seminars and workshops are free of charge, but some special events may involve a nominal fee. Pre-registration is required and, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all seminars and workshops are to be held in a virtual meeting format.

For more information on the Starter Company Plus program, including registration and a complete list of eligibility requirements, click here. To register for one of the upcoming information sessions click here. Individuals interested in engaging with the SCEC are encouraged to click here and complete their intake form.