Smithers on Startup Canada lineup

The federal government has launched a new program to help first-time entrepreneurs get the help they need for starting a business.

The federal government has launched a new program, Startup Canada Communities, designed to help first-time entrepreneurs get the help they need to navigate the ins and outs of starting a business.

Smithers is one of only 15 communities across the country taking part in the pilot project.

The program provides entrepreneurs with access to mentors and support, as well as information on funding opportunities, as well as opportunities to interact with other individuals in the business community.

“For Smithers, the biggest win is having everything brought together into one place so that locals know exactly where to go and will have everything they need for their startup project or enterprise,” Tony Mondia, Startup Smithers volunteer said in a press release.

“Not only that, they now have  easy access to hundreds of other entrepreneurs across Canada for sharing ideas, getting advice, maybe even finding a co-founder to start up another venture.”

The first communities selected to participate were chosen based on several factors, such as the maturity of the start up sector in the community, community demographics, the size of the community and location, so as to build a network that spans the community.

Thus far 15 local established entrepreneurs have signed on to act as mentors.

Mike Sawyer, owner of Net Zero Structures Ltd, said he was only too happy to step up as a mentor.

“I find it [Startup Smithers] a very exciting concept,” Sawyer said.

“I didn’t have a mentor when I started, that’s why I signed up as a mentor.

Sawyer, a recent transplant from Calgary, was amazed at the potential in Smithers with respect to entrepreneurship.

“I see a lot of people who for one reason or another don’t have the entrepreneurial skills, but have an idea and don’t know how to move it forward.

Sawyer said he sees the potential for synergisms among start up businesses and the potential to share ideas.

“If you don’t have a mentor your chances of failure are much higher,” Sawyer said.

Being part of the Startup Canada project is good news for Smithers, Economic Development Officer with the Bulkley Valley Economic Development Office, Alan Stroet said.

“Being one of 15 pilot startup communities  with Startup Canada will allow for local entrepreneurs to tap into a national network of like-minded individuals,” Stroet said.

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