-2.7 C
Saturday, February 22, 2020
Connecting Our Communities

Capitalizing on the food movement

New program from the Waterloo Region Small Business Centre focuses on food-based entrepreneurs, and those who want to be

The rise of the foodie movement has certainly shaped the modern culinary landscape. Now, that extends to the offerings of the Waterloo Region Small Business Centre, whose first speciality start-up program focuses on, you guessed it, food.

The Starter Company Plus – Food Venture provides training for prospective new entrepreneurs and for young businesses within three years of launch. Like the centre’s other venture programs, it provides help with formulating a business plan, product development and mentoring, but this time with an emphasis on the food industry.

Focused on the food industry, it excludes restaurants, though it is open to catering businesses. The target is those looking at businesses that process food or package it, explained small business advisor Rob Clement.

“The target is food that’s going to be packaged for sale,” he said.

The Waterloo Region Small Business Centre is accepting applications for the 12-week program until February 18, with those who are approved to be notified February 25, ahead of the March 3 start date. Those chosen to participate have a chance to apply for a provincial grant of up to $5,000 to start or expand a food processing, manufacturing or catering business.

The new program has a capacity of 20 to 25 participants. While organizers aren’t sure what to expect in the way of applicants given that it’s the first intake, the general program typically accepts about a third of applicants, said Clement.

“Historically, we’ve had to turn people away from the generalized program.”

While this is the first of their starter programs that’s geared towards a specific industry, there are plenty of similarities to other offerings, he added, as the program will cover some of the basic startup issues, as well as early development – the program is available to established businesses up to three years old.

On the provincial grant front, Clement notes about half of program participants receive funding.

The centre has already received queries and applications at this point. Applicants to the general program tend to be above the age of 30, and about two-thirds are women, he said, though it remains to be seen how the numbers look this time around.

What is known is that the centre’s assistance does seem to boost new companies’ fortunes. After two years, about 80 per cent of the businesses are still in operation, he estimated.

Even after the program, the centre can provide ongoing support, including mentorship – the help doesn’t stop at the end of the course time.

“We are absolutely available to them, and we reach out to them periodically,” said Clement of ongoing assistance.

That formula applies to the Starter Company Plus – Food Venture program, where participants will be encouraged to explore prospective food business ideas from many angles, and arrive at a plan to get the  idea off the ground.

The agricultural aspects of the townships make them a likely source of food-based business ideas. Something as simple as taking a booth at a farmers’ market is a good option to try out the marketability of products, for instance, Clement suggested.

“It’s a good way to test proof of concept.

“We definitely have some people who have done things out at the St. Jacobs market,” he said of entrepreneurs who’ve passed through the centre’s programs. “It’s a good way to find out if there’s actually some traction out there.”

More information about the new program, and the centre in general, can be found online.

Steve Kannon
Steve Kannonhttps://www.observerxtra.com
A community newspaper journalist for more than two decades, Steve Kannon is the editor of the Observer.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to The Observer's online community. Pseudonyms are not permitted. By submitting a comment, you accept that The Observer has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner The Observer chooses. Please note that The Observer does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our submission guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.


EDSS performers take Broadway under the sea

By Steve Kannon skannon@woolwichobserver.com The tropics, under the sea or otherwise, seem like a much better place to be as we suffer through some midwinter weather. Way...

In Print. Online. In Pictures. In Depth.

You obviously love community journalism. Thanks for visiting today. If you have a great local story, let us know.

Sugar Kings win three games, clinch first place

In need of just one more win to clinch first place in the Midwestern Conference, the Elmira Sugar Kings claimed all three games...

EDSS performers take Broadway under the sea

By Steve Kannon skannon@woolwichobserver.com The tropics, under the sea or otherwise, seem like a much better place...

Jacks take 3-2 series lead into deciding weekend vs. New Hamburg

The Wellesley Applejacks are up 3-2 in their best-of-seven series against the New Hamburg Firebirds, having claimed two of this week’s three games in...

Woolwich hires contractor to assess condition of its buildings

Some of the municipal buildings aren’t particularly old, but Woolwich is already planning for the eventual repairs and replacement costs associated with equipment such as...

Para hockey rivals Canada and the U.S. face off in Elmira this week

They come from all over the country, but they’re united in one goal: take back the gold medal for Canada.

Jacks split opening pair in playoff series vs. New Hamburg

For the Wellesley Applejacks, 4-1 and 4-1 make it 1-1 in the opening round of the Provincial Junior Hockey League playoffs.
- Advertisement -