NEW GLASGOW – Two local businesses are reaping the benefits of a pilot project between four business development agencies.
Black Business Initiative (BBI), Community Business Development Corporation (CBDC) NOBL, Centre for Entrepreneurship Education and Development (CEED) and Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Network (EDN) launched the Nova Scotia Youth Succession Program in December 2013, which tries to match retiring business owners with young entrepreneurs.
“It repatriates those people that have already gone out west and want opportunities to come back,” Brian Patton, a business analyst with NOBL in Antigonish, said about the trial program that was extended to Pictou, Antigonish and Colchester Counties.
The former Yours Trudy Consignment Fashions on Provost Street is one of those businesses.
Melissa Neumann is now making it her own while planning to maintain existing consignors and other aspects of the store.
Neumann, a Pictou County entrepreneur and advertising consultant for The News, hopes to reopen the business on Aug. 1 under a new name and a fresh paint job.
She wants to add bridal and prom consignment to the shop, as well as costume jewelry.
Neumann was matched with the business after going through several exercises as part of the program, including a business ‘boot-camp’ in February.
For two days, approximately 30 potential business owners tried to prove they had skills, initiative and the ability to think on their feet.
One of the activities that stands out for Neumann involved creating and marketing a product in less than 24 hours, starting with a $20 float.
“We ended up creating natural dog treats and selling them in the Co-op in Antigonish,” Neumann said of her group of three. “I sort of took it as a new challenge. Everyone was put in the same position. It’s the same with business. You’re taking a chance and trying to think of something that’s going to work. It was a challenge in the sense that you had to really think, ‘Okay, what can I sell? Where are our skills?’”
The program, funded by government organizations such as the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, aims to create incentives for young people to stay in rural Nova Scotia, and prevent towns from losing services when business owners retire.
It helps to transition the businesses by offering coaching, mentorship, and sometimes, financial support.
Patton pinpointed a few areas the program could improve. He suggested a wider radius, rather than simply within Pictou, Antigonish and Colchester Counties, to attract potential entrepreneurs would be beneficial.
“I believe it should continue,” he said, adding that they have to show benefit in their final report that they’ll present in September.
Patton said two local businesses have finalized their transfers out of four or five throughout the three counties so far after starting with 12 to 15 potential transfers.
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