By CATHY DOBSON
Five enterprising young students from Sarnia- Lambton are operating their own businesses this summer thanks to their initiative and the Ontario government’s Summer Company program. The program has been around for years but Chantelle Simard, who co-ordinates entrepreneurship programs at the Business Enterprise Centre of Sarnia-Lambton, says a record-breaking 20 applications arrived this spring and five were approved. In total, the Ministry of Small Business and Entrepreneurship is funding 350 summer companies across the province.
Each successful applicant came up with his or her own concept, wrote a business plan and had to demonstrate that the company was viable. Simard pre-screened all the applicants before the final choices were made by the ministry. It’s a very thorough process that takes smarts, spirit and drive, Simard said. The five local students are:
Michelle Slotwinski, 17, from Northern Collegiate, operates Sports Action Photography. Slotwinski is the field to take digital photos at house league and travel sporting events. The key is that the athletes are in action playing everything from soccer and baseball to lacrosse and track. Slotwinski has the technology to produce prints and discs right at the event. Her website is http://home.cogeco.ca/~mslotwinski.
Jennifer Dunlop, 18, from LCCVI in Petrolia, is operating P-Town Embroidery, a business that embroiders T-shirts, team shirts, blankets and more. Dunlop is sharing space at P-Town Tech on Petrolia’s main street. Her website is www.ptownembroidery.com.
Sarah Lacey, 25, is pursuing a teaching degree, and operating Scatter Joy Creations this summer. She offers unique, handmade embroidered art creations that can be viewed at her online store at: www.scatterjoycreations.etsy.com.Products for sale include wallets, purses, bags, aprons, embroidered picture frames and original artwork.
Krista Stonehouse, 19, of Sarnia, a second-year business student at the University of Western Ontario, has started a business that provides capital market research and computer analysis to companies in the investment field. Stonehouse already has one major contract and is looking for more clients interested in more efficient operations. Her business phone is 519-330-8635.
Samantha Lajoie, 18, is a graduate of St. Clair Secondary School and is attending Lambton College’s Hospitality and Tourism program this fall. She is owner and operator of Helga and Olga’s Pretzels. Her pretzels are homemade and come in a variety of flavours including original, cinnamon and sugar, garlic, herb and parmesan. She just finished a busy week selling at Bayfest and is available for other special events. Contact Lajoie at 519-312-3755 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Each business person received $1,500 from the province for start-up this spring and will receive another $1,500 in September when they return to school.
They also have volunteer mentors who meet with them regularly and provide a sounding board and advice. In Sarnia, this year’s mentors are Tara Soeder of Investors Group, Anita Minielly of the Innivity Marketing Group, Movreen Collins of Bean’Stock Inc., Susan Doughty of TD bank, and Anne Marie Broad from Bayfest.
“We have a really promising group of entrepreneurs this year,” said Simard. “We want them to make money, obviously, but it’s not only about that. It’s also about the learning process and finding out what strategies work.”
The program is run in conjunction with the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership.