Startup Canada will turn its full attention to starting up Prince George next month.
On Sept. 17, the national do-it-yourself business extravaganza comes to Prince George, bringing a one-day burst of experts, resources, and practical inspiration for those in the local region interested in running their own business.
"It is meant to advance entrepreneurship and show people that owning your own business is a legitimate way of creating a life," said Renata King of the Northern Development Initiative Trust, one of the main local supporters of the Startup Canada appearance in this city. "So many people think you have to get a job, work for somebody else, to get ahead in life. That is one option, but there is also the option of being an entrepreneur. In fact some people do both."
There is a youthful energy to the Startup Canada initiative, but it is not for youth or about youth any more than it is for elders who want to start up a retirement project, or the middle aged who have a passion they have always wanted to pursue, or anyone wishing to supplement an income with a business of their own. It is for artists or crafters who want to make money with their creations, users of products they love so much they want to sell them to others, those with cooking skills who want to open their own cafe or catering company, and professionals with white or blue collars thinking of hanging out their own shingle.
"I think that Prince George specifically has, in past years, been somewhat disadvantaged, lagging a bit in startups compared to similar-sized places," said Chamber of Commerce CEO Jennifer Brandle-McCall. "It is an area we need to boost and explore. There is so much room for that."
The local Chamber is hosting a Business After 5 event on Sept. 17 at Oooh Chocolat for its members and their guests. Speaking there will be members of the Startup Canada tour and B.C. Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation Pat Bell. The feature will be the Chamber's unveiling of the city's first Top 40 Under 40 roster.
"I think Prince George is attracting a younger demographic and that comes with new ideas and more willingness to take risk," said Brandle-McCall. "Having some courage and great ideas and business energy is building our community."
The Startup Canada tour was started in Nova Scotia in March and has been working its way across Canada ever since. It was invented by a set of motivated entrepreneurs and initial sponsors who saw the benefit in inspiring and training other owners of businesses. It is 100 per cent volunteer-run and thrives by tapping into supportive entrepreneur mentors across Canada.
Some of these mentors, along with local business success stories, will be in the Prince George spotlight. A town hall meeting at UNBC begins the one-day visit, so members of the public and anyone in the business community can come discuss the local and national issues. There will also be break-out sessions, workshops and other ways local entrepreneurs (and hopefuls) can get helpful tips for their own ventures.
"It's a great opportunity for gaining knowledge, and it is a great chance for our community to also get some national profile," said King. "The north was built on the entrepreneurial spirit, the natural resources sector is all about that, and through history that has been parlayed into a tremendous lifestyle for the people who live here now and still pursue that entrepreneurial vision."