Regional Business Centre celebrates the city’s newest batch of entreprenuers

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Deputy Mayor Al Sizer and representatives of the Regional Business Centre (RBC) gathered in the Tom Davies Square courtyard Aug. 21, to celebrate the graduation of this year’s Summer Company participants.

Summer Company was introduced by the Province of Ontario in 2001, to provide youth between the ages of 15 and 29 with the practical hands-on coaching and mentoring from local business leaders, while being financially supported in the entrepreneurial venture of their choosing. 

Applicants must be Canadian citizens, residents of Ontario and be enrolled in high school or a post-secondary institution that they will be returning to in the fall. 

This year’s graduates were Brittany Jefferson, Cameron Perdue, Dawson Santerre, Ethan Gosselin, Jacqueline Villeneuve and Reneé-Claude Pilon.

“It’s always great to come out and encourage what they’ve started,” said Sizer, on what would be his third Summer Company graduation ceremony since joining council on behalf of Ward 8. 

“Just the fact that we have the youth here is a big factor, first of all, because we had a fair amount of out-migration and now we’re seeing an in-migration again,” he said. “We need this base to continue to grow the economy and the community.”

Acceptance to the program is based on the business plan submitted by prospective participants, which is evaluated by members of the RBC based on the viability of the business and the commitment shown by applicants. Brad Senecal, RBC intern and host of this year’s Summer Company program, said this measure is to ensure that students understand the work and risk involved in starting a business.

Students accepted into the program are awarded a $1,500 grant to cover their business’ start-up costs and the opportunity to earn an additional $1,500 if they meet a set of minimum requirements by the end of the program. Throughout the three-month period, students are invited to participate in a variety of workshops, which Senecal said covers topics such as website development, accounting, networking and business to business marketing. 

One of the most beneficial things about these workshops said Senecal, is that the topics discussed and connections made with industry professionals, have the potential to benefit participants well beyond their summer ventures. 

“The level of learning we got…(were) things you would probably pay to get consulting for,” said Cameron Perdue, which he said, was one of the reasons he was inspired to apply for the Summer Company program. This, along with what was described by Perdue as a life-long interest in film and entrepreneurship. 

Perdue said he was first introduced to RBC and their role in the community when his business class at Cambrian College was visited by a representative of the city centre. 

“That kind of made me know that no matter what if I’m ever going to start a business – which was what I always kind of wanted to do – that it’s going to be through the Regional Business Centre,” he said.

Perdue is a licensed drone operator who launched his independent media creation company, Incapture, this summer, with help from RBC. Despite its state of infancy, Perdue said the business did quite well over these past few months, booking his first client on day one of its launch. 

Aside from film for the purpose of advertising, Perdue said his projects thus far have included a lot more contracts for site surveys than he expected. Having a drone in these circumstances he said, gives clients such as those in the lumber industry, access to property they would have previously had to walk, use online maps or hire a helicopter to view. 

Perdue said he plans to continue the business moving forward, once he has completed his BBA at Laurentian University. 

It is not uncommon for participants to put their businesses on hold when returning to school said Senecal, picking it back up again upon graduation or using that knowledge to begin another venture. Just as common though he said, is for students to use this time as a learning experience and find a career path that suits them better.

Regardless of their plans following graduation, Senecal said Summer Company is a valuable opportunity for high school students to explore their options and post-secondary students to put their education to the test. 

Next year, Senecal said RBC hopes to welcome nine students to the growing program. 

Graduates:

Brittany Jefferson – Lümen Art & Illustraion
Online storefront where guests can purchase Jefferson’s one of a kind illustrations, fine art and prints.

Cameron Perdue – Incapture
Media creation company which films and edits drone footage. https://www.incapture.ca/

Dawson Santerre – We Cut Grass
Landscaping business which offers a wide variety of services including mowing and seeding.

Ethan Gosselin – 46 North Printing
Custom design company that offers Sudbury inspired tee shirts, hoodies, grocery bags and more.

Jacqueline Villeneuve – Hey! It’s Jacqueline 
Service agency offering public speaking services, non-profit and small business consulting, as well as grant writing and fundraising strategic planning. http://

Reneé-Claude Pilon – Paddle Out
Custom creations on wooden paddles.