CORNWALL, Ontario - Business leaders are trying desperately to get to young people early on to sew the seeds of entrepreneurship, in hopes they will grow into adults who want to stay here to run their own business.
Lisa Boyer, the new youth entrepreneurship program co-ordinator with the Community Futures Development Corporation (CFDC), said in an interview she is working with children as young as eight or nine to ensure they learn early on there is nothing wrong with growing up to be your own boss.
"I've reached out to over 200 students through workshops," she said. "And so far the message has been really well received.
"I offer different things for them to do - like a create-a-logo contest - and the kids learn what it takes be an entrepreneur."
Older children, like those in high school, get more heavily involved in the process, and actualy research ideas concerning opening a specific business.
"There's a strong curriculum component," Boyer said.
It's all part of CFDC's plan to get more students to stay in and around Cornwall after graduation. Similar organizations, especially in rural areas, have found it difficult to retain young people who move away to study - and then stay in larger centres.
CFDC's Breezeway Accelerator Program also helps young people, aged 18 to 39, break down barriers to submitting applications for loans to start their own business.
CFDC has partnered with the Canadian Youth Business Foundation, and the Breezeway program walks applicants through the steps of researching and streamlining the application process so that loan requests are completed with all necessary details.
"It really helps when they go to submit an application to the youth business foundation," said Boyer. "We will work with them, on their schedule, to complete the program."
In as little as three weeks an applicant can complete the Breezeway program and then send off an application for a business loan.
Loans of up to $30,000 are available. Boyer said there's already one individual in the program, and there is room for seven more before the class is full for this round.
Another round of applicants will likely be accepted in a few months.
For more information about the program, contact CFDC at (613)-932-4333.