Win This Space launched

Sec­ond con­test to help fill com­mer­cial space in Down­town Pem­broke kicks off

The Daily Observer - - FRONT PAGE - STEPHEN UHLER

The sec­ond an­nual Win This Space con­test is now un­der­way.

It of­fers hope­ful en­trepreneurs the chance to win a com­mer­cial space in Pem­broke rent free for six months on a two-year lease, plus a prize pack­age of items to help give the busi­nesses a boost.

Re­cently at city hall six of the eight con­tes­tants, who had ap­plied be­fore the Feb. 27 dead­line to take part, and their sup­port­ers at­tended a brief­ing ses­sion where the rules of the con­test were spelled out.

Heather Salo­vaara, the city ’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer, hosted this launch, and told the con­tes­tants they will have to at­tend three weekly train­ing ses­sions in which they will learn how to write a busi­ness plan, be taught the ba­sics of fi­nan­cial plan­ning for their busi­ness and lastly, how best to ad­ver­tise and pro­mote their busi­ness.

She said the first ses­sion was held March 12 with Colleen Sadler, busi­ness con­sul­tant with En­ter­prise Ren­frew County, who ex­plained how to do busi­ness plans. The sec­ond ses­sion on March 22 will be con­ducted by Mike Thomp­son, busi­ness de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer with the Ren­frew County Com­mu­nity Fu­tures De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion, who will walk every­one on how to do a cash flow.

On March 26, the con­tes­tants will be taken on a tour of the five avail­able prop­er­ties down­town, two of which are in The Mews, when they will have a chance to meet the land­lords.

The last ses­sion, held April 5, will fea­ture Chéla Brekon, En­tre­pre­neur-in-Res­i­dence at Al­go­nquin Col­lege, teach­ing about mar­ket­ing, while Shel­don Re­iche will ad­vise on le­gal mat­ters.

Fol­low­ing these manda­tory train­ing ses­sions, the fi­nal sub­mis­sion from the con­tes­tants writ­ten in the form of a busi­ness plan is due April 15 at 4 p.m.

The plan will go be­fore a judg­ing panel which will score each busi­ness plan against a set of cri­te­ria and on May 7 the top con­tes­tants will be named.

On May 10, a Grand Fi­nale will be held where the fi­nal­ists will have one last chance to pitch their busi­ness idea to the judges, who will de­lib­er­ate and se­lect a grand prize win­ner who will be an­nounced live that night on YourTV. The win­ner will then choose the space they wish from the avail­able prop­er­ties and must open their busi­ness by Sept. 10.

“You’ll have four months to open your busi­nesses,” Salo­vaara said. The lo­ca­tion of the Grand Fi­nale has yet to be de­ter­mined.

In 2016, city coun­cil agreed to go for­ward with the eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment de­part­ment’s idea, which has been suc­cess­ful in Uxbridge and Huron East in fill­ing va­cant com­mer­cial space.

“The rea­son we do this is to fill va­cant spa­ces down­town, while also en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to start up new busi­nesses,” she said. “It worked well for us last year, so we’re re­ally ex­cited about this year.”

Stacy Tay­lor of Lit­tle Things Can­ning Com­pany was the win­ner of the first Win This Space con­test, and said it changed her life. She had been work­ing her busi­ness out of her home on a part­time ba­sis be­fore the con­test came along. Tired of her full-time job, she de­cided on a whim to en­ter.

“The ex­pe­ri­ence was su­per sur­real, and it can be over­whelm­ing, but very sat­is­fy­ing,” she said. It is also a lot of hard work, and the four months runs out quickly. Tay­lor cau­tioned the con­tes­tants to be pre­pared to ad­just if things don’t go ac­cord­ing to plan.

“Be aware some as­pects of your busi­ness plan may not work out, but they need to be fluid,” she said. Over­all, she is glad to have taken the plunge.

“This changed my life for the bet­ter,” Tay­lor said, not­ing busi­ness has been do­ing very well.


Heather Salo­vaara, Pem­broke's eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer, shows the five down­town prop­er­ties up for grabs in the Win This Space con­test, which launched last week. En­trepreneurs are given the chance to win the use of one of these spa­ces for six months rent free, within a two-year lease, plus other busi­ness sup­ports.

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