For students, finding a summer job can sometimes be easier said than done. A young entrepreneur program, administered in the region by the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation, aims to help solve this predicament while teaching youth the ins-and-outs of self-employment.
The Summer Company program provides grants and mentoring to assist high school and university students in starting and running a business during the summer months. Applications are now being accepted for the 2016 season. To apply, visit www.ontario.ca or contact Angela Bruni, an Economic Development Officer with the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation, at 705-759-2616 or [email protected].
“Not only can Summer Company help youth find seasonal employment, it also provides an opportunity to get people exposed to entrepreneurship at an early age so they are better prepared for future success in business,” said Bruni. “It’s an excellent program, and I encourage students to get involved. With limited space, the sooner people sign up, the better.”
Summer Company is open to youth between the ages of 15 and 29 who are returning to school in the fall. At the start of the program, participants receive enterprise training and a $1,500 grant to help get their business off the ground. They are also provided with ongoing mentorship throughout the summer. As long as participants follow through with training and reporting requirements, they are given an additional $1,500 grant at the end of the season.
Summer Company participants can start any type of business they want. In past years, ideas have ranged from laser printing and brick driveway re-leveling, to vehicle detailing and sports camps. In many cases, the seasonal businesses were eventually turned into full-time, year-round operations, some of which are still around today.
Jeff Greco is a prime example. While studying for a computer science degree at Algoma University in 2011, he signed up for Summer Company and began operating a website marketing firm. Today, Cavera Inc. is still in business. And it’s still growing. In fact, with its revenue and clientele nearly tripling in each of the past three years, the full-service creative marketing agency now has a staff contingent of six and recently moved to a larger office at 875 Queen Street East.
Paul Caputo is another success story. He enrolled in the Summer Company program in 2009 and opened Green Grass Yard Care. Today, more than six years later, the firm is still operating, though it looks significantly different. Along with landscaping, the business now offers excavations, asphalt, grading, aggregate, drainage, clearing, and commercial snow removal and sanding. To reflect its growth, the company name was changed last month to PAC Construction Group Ltd. It employs three full-time permanent staff, along with five seasonal positions.
Funded by the Province of Ontario, Summer Company is administered in the Algoma District and Chapleau by the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation. Since 2010, the organization has mentored a total of 72 youth in the region through the program.