CLIFFORD – The establishment of 40 new youth-run businesses in the region was celebrated with a barbecue at Rotary Park here on Aug. 14.
The support for local youth entrepreneurs came through Saugeen Connects, an economic development partnership that includes Minto, Wellington North, Brockton, Hanover, West Grey and the Saugeen Economic Development Corporation (SEDC).
Students from Grades 6 to 12 who successfully pitched their ideas to the Saugeen Connects team under the Saugeen Student Start-up Program (SSUP) received start-up funding and extensive training while operating their own businesses this summer.
For the involved, Saugeen SSUP included a meet-and- greet with sponsors, workshop training, start-up funding and an opportunity to earn bonus cash through active participation in SSUP initiatives.
In addition to a grant from the Rural Economic Development fund through the provincial Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the member municipalities acquired private-sector sponsors to contribute to the funding.
Businesses launched vary from lawn care and dog walking to balloon art and designing a mental health app.
At the celebration, Minto economic development and business manager Belinda Wick-Graham said the SSUP program was based on a national award-winning program originally developed by Norfolk County.
“We thought, why not bring something like this here for our youth in our region?” said Wick Graham.
“And we’re really excited to have such a great response from our youth in our community who are running their business, and also from the sponsors that have allowed us to offer this program.”
SEDC board chair Lloyd Love said the non-profit corporation aims to promote business and entrepreneurship in the local region.
“The Student Start Up Program fits perfectly into our mandate and focuses on promoting entrepreneurship to our communities’ youth,” said Love.
“I hope to see the students involved in this program continue to pursue entrepreneurship with a passion and help keep our business community strong and diverse for future generations.”