Entrepreneurship and Job Creation Supported in Sarnia-Lambton Through The Starter Company Plus Program

Crystal De Boer, Sweet Maple Designs, is pictured.





Ellan Dickieson, Senior Transitions Made Simple, is pictured.




SARNIA, ON: Eight small businesses have been selected to participate in the Starter Company Plus program, supporting entrepreneurship and job creation in the Sarnia-Lambton area. The Starter Company Plus program provides access to mentorship and a combined $30,000 in grant funding, and is designed to foster entrepreneurship and small business growth across the county. These eight small businesses were selected following a four-month business planning process that supported 50 businesses through the Starter Company Plus application.

With more than 98% of businesses operating in the Sarnia-Lambton area having less than 49 employees, the small business sector is a significant driver of job creation in the region. The Starter Company Plus program is designed to inject crucial funds and mentorship into new and expanding small businesses in the Sarnia-Lambton area, encouraging job creation, economic growth, and prosperity across the County of Lambton.

“Fostering entrepreneurship in the Sarnia-Lambton area is critical. Through the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership’s Business Enterprise Centre, we are dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs whether they are growing an existing business, starting a new one or in the early stages of exploring an idea,” said Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership CEO, Stephen Thompson.

With 50 businesses participating in the Starter Company Plus application process, the volunteer review committee began the difficult process of making their final selections. Of the successful applicants, four are growing an existing business and four are starting a new business.

“The path to entrepreneurship is rarely linear,” said Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership’s Development Coordinator, Chantelle Core. “The other 42 businesses who participated in the application process are welcome to continue working with the Business Enterprise Centre. They are encouraged to further develop their business plans and prepare to apply for future grant and mentorship program offerings.”

“Mentorship and connection are top of mind for the businesses and entrepreneurs who applied for the Starter Company Plus Program,” continued Core.

Previous participants of the program describe the mentorship and grant funding as vital support during a challenging year. “The monthly cohort meetings were empowering as they allowed us to stay connected and supported by other local small business owners and professionals. The guidance could not have come at a better time due to the challenges of this past year,” said Loren Boccanfuso and Mackenzie Zavitz, co-owners of Canopy Wellness.

“The grant also enabled us to improve our business and invest in a new revenue stream throughout the challenges of changing restrictions. We enhanced our Bowen Therapy space, and purchased kettlebell exercise equipment, which we rented to our clients as we pivoted to online classes. We look forward to continue keeping our members engaged, moving, and pain free at Canopy Wellness, thanks to the Starter Company Plus
program,” Boccanfuso and Zavitz explained.

“We are pleased with the cohort of 8 businesses selected by the review committee. Our goal in bringing these eight businesses together for 12 months is to enable them to leverage and share their collective knowledge while utilizing the support and mentorship of local business leaders. Starter Company Plus helps entrepreneurs to grow their individual businesses and has a continued positive economic impact on the community,” said Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership CEO, Stephen Thompson.

All Starter Company Plus applicants receive access to the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership’s Business Enterprise Centre services. The free service offering includes workshops, seminars, and one-one-one business consultation services to help aspiring, new, and existing entrepreneurs across the Sarnia-Lambton area address individual questions or concerns, define their business idea, and create their business plan. The
Business Enterprise Centre services are available to all residents of Sarnia-Lambton, regardless of participation in the Starter Company Plus program.

The Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership would like to thank the Sarnia-Lambton Business Development Corporation, Libro Credit Union, Western Sarnia-Lambton Research Park, Her Initiative Co., and CR Creative Co. for their in-kind contributions to the success of the program.

A full list and descriptions of this year’s program participants can be found below.

New Businesses:

Embodied Life Pilates and Movement Centre
Owned and operated by Lauren Romphf in St. Clair Township, Embodied Life Pilates and Movement Centre offers online services in addition to a bricks and mortar studio located in Sarnia’s downtown. Embodied Life offers low-impact, highly adaptable movement programming using Pilates, fascial movement instruction, developmental movement re-patterning, and postural assessment, making it ideal for all bodies and fitness
levels. At Embodied Life, Lauren works with individuals to achieve their fitness and movement goals, including improving strength and mobility, neuromuscular rehab, athletic conditioning, and pain management.

Senior Transition Made Simple
Founded by Ellan Dickieson, Senior Transitions Made Simple exists to give seniors and their families a better aging experience. As a Registered Social Worker and Accredited Financial Counsellor, Ellan supports seniors to make informed choices with their health, housing, social networks, caregiving teams, and to leverage both financial and other resources. Services are offered in-home within Sarnia-Lambton and virtually.

Sound HR Associates
Owned and operated by Gigi Walent-Burke, Sound HR Associates is passionate about the work of Human Resources and the value that it brings to businesses small to large. As a solutions-based consulting firm in the Sarnia-Lambton area, Sound HR Associates understands the community and the industries that are located within it. Sound HR Associates specializes in updating policies and procedures to become compliant with regulations, developing succession plans, creating compensation metrics, employee attraction and retention and workplace investigations.

The Raven Heart
Following her heart, Yoga Teacher and Reiki Master Ashley Smith has created an inclusive, lighthearted space with the purpose to serve our community. Ashley has a vision of supporting others on their wellness journey. The Raven Heart offers yoga, meditation, energy healing, workshops, and a range of other holistic services for all ages supporting the overall wellness of the body, mind and spirit in its mission to provide a space where students feel safe and empowered. A space to reconnect. A space for healing and growth. Ashley is passionate about sharing her journey and the powerful ways it has impacted her life.

Existing Businesses:

Bluepoint Public Relations
Bluepoint Public Relations is a strategic communications firm operated by Principal and Founder Marika Sylvain Groendyk in Plympton-Wyoming. Bluepoint PR offers a full range of public relations services and specializes in crisis communications and reputation management, offering a trauma-informed communications approach to help connect businesses, organizations and individuals with their publics and build meaningful relationships with their communities during even the most challenging times.

My Fit Room Studio
My Fit Room Studio in Lambton Shores is owned and operated by Brianne Roder and Morgan Hutton. Established in 2017, the studio seeks continuous growth in a rising market. My Fit Room Studio’s mission is to keep people active, healthy and happy. The studio offers group classes, personal training, virtual programs, and nutrition guidance. The studio is community-focused and provides a space for connection, support, and positive lifestyle changes.

Studio Q Designs
Founded by Amy Q Cooper, Studio Q Designs brings companies to life in the digital world through apps, websites, branding, and marketing. Studio Q’s custom digital products combine data, strategy, and design to ensure optimal user experiences that save companies time and help them grow. The creative agency has expertise in user experience and user interface design, visual design, marketing, and full stack development.

Sweet Maple Designs
Sweet Maple Designs is owned and operated by Crystal De Boer in Plympton-Wyoming, specializing in manufacturing wooden climbers and toys for children 6 months to 6 years old. Crystal is passionate about creating products that encourage children to set their own boundaries, develop fine motor skills, and build self-confidence and physical strength. Having gained traction through e-commerce in Sarnia-Lambton, Sweet Maple Designs will soon be shipping their products across Canada.

More information on the Starter Company Plus Program can be found by clicking HERE or by contacting Chantelle Core at chantelle@sarnialambton.on.ca

Program Contact
Chantelle Core
Development Coordinator
Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership

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