15 students are participating in the Summer Company – Cornwall Ontario By Jason Setnyk – July 16th, 2010

Cornwall ON – Entrepreneurship and businesses opportunities are for people of all ages including youth. This year 15 students are participating in the Summer Company, where Cornwall students can earn up to $3000 to help them successfully run a summer business.

The program is an opportunity for students to start their own businesses over the summer, and to learn valuable hands-on skills, including marketing, selling, and building a rapport with customers.

Alyssa Blais who is a Business Consultant and represents the Cornwall Business Enterprise Centre is very optimistic about the program.

“Summer Company is an Ontario government program funded by the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade (MEDT) which grants eligible students between the ages of 15-29 years up to $1,500 for start up costs and up to an additional $1,500 for successful completion of the program.”

The Cornwall Business Enterprise Centre has been overseeing the MEDT Summer Company program in Cornwall and the surrounding area for the past nine years.

I met up with Jamie Gilcig, owner of Cornwall Free News and Seaway Radio,  Wednesday morning at Spinners Diner to talk about the Enterprise Marketing Seminar he was about to deliver to the young entrepreneurs at Summer Company.

At breakfast Gilcig said, “We don’t have Domtar or Coutaulds anymore. The city needs small and medium sized business, and sometimes those businesses start in a basement or a garage”.

According to Gilcig, “enterprise is the best way to keep people in Cornwall”. “It also ensures money stays in the City of Cornwall”.

Also at Spinners was James Moak who is a Licensed Paralegal. He shared his views about how vital new entrepreneurs are for Cornwall in the long term. “Small businesses can generate higher paying jobs. Business owners are the people who make a city grow. It’s important to give them the tools they need to succeed. This will help generate jobs”.

At the Summer Company meeting and seminar held at a conference room in Cornwall’s Job Zone, I met students who created their own businesses with the help of the program.

The first student I talked to was Rebecca Runions. She started a video and sound recording company called Reel Thing Productions.

Yanic Bellefeuille, age 15, is a music instructor. Through his company Mobile Harmony, he offers guitar and piano lessons. While Kasey Masson, age 23, created Coluni Tree, a company that sells her hand crafted jewellery.

From boat sander, to make-up artist, to diet instructor, there are a wide array of new businesses in Cornwall thanks to Summer Company.

Gilcig talked to the students about marketing. “There are challenges for small businesses. They have limited budgets. It’s important to get word of mouth out, and to make the most of marketing”. Gilcig emphasized the importance of digital advertisements.  “If a picture says a thousand words, a video says a million! Especially online.”

Gilcig also explained the importance of building a good rapport with customers.

“You are selling yourself, if can’t get people to trust you, they won’t trust your product”.

The students are also getting some help from the community. Noella Cotnam of Sign It Signs is offering to make a free sign for each Summer Company business. All of the students will have the opportunity for special  advertisements on Cornwall Free News for the Summer Company group.

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