• 519.631.1680 x4503

  • Follow US!

  • Entrepreneurial Programs

    Ready.Set.Grow Business Plan  Competition

    Starting a business? Join us for our business plan competition, Ready.Set.Grow. To get more information or register for training, please contact Tara at 519 631 1680 ext 4503.

    The Winner will receive:

    • Media package from Establish Media
    • Marketing package from Van Pelts
    • Free membership from St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce
    • 1 year of free banking from Libro Credit Union
    • $5000 in grant funding


    • Over 18 years of age and not in full time education
    • A new business in Elgin County or St. Thomas (under 1 year)
    • A Canadian citizen or permanent resident living in O-ntario
    • Prepared to commit to a minimum average of 35 hours to run your business
    • Prepared to attend mentor meetings for at least six months
    • Prepared to enroll in the Business Planning Program
    • Must submit a full business plan with 2 years financial projections by February 1, 2019
    • Committed to starting a lasting business in St. Thomas or Elgin County

    What type of business can be started? Almost any type, as long as it:

    • Is a sole proprietorship or a corporation where the applicant will be the majority shareholder
    • Is an independent business venture
    • Fits the Canada Revenue Agency definition of being self-employed FORM RC 4110 through the website:


    • Operates at arm’s length from family business ventures in Ontario
    • Operates full-time as defined in the business plan and maintains its own books and records
    • Maintains a separate business bank account, follows government rules and regulations for operating a business

    Businesses not eligible:

    • Partnerships that are 50% shared, franchises, commissioned sales and distributorships
    • Business ventures that are continuations of existing commercial endeavours
    • Not-for-profit or charitable ente-rprises
    • Multi-level marketing ventures
    • Single event such as musical ventures bands, DJs or dance/party event organizations
    • Businesses that are strictly pay per click and/or 1-900 businesses
    • Businesses that have received the Starter Co Plus grant already


    • Must submit an approved business plan by February 1st
    • The top 5 submissions will be selected by the judging panel
    • The top 5 submissions will present to the panel in March (date to be finalized)

    Grant Programs for Entrepreneurs

    Summer Company

    Summer Company is a program of the government of Ontario that helps young people between 15 and 29 years old start and run their own summer business by providing funding, advice and services.

    Learning how to run your own student business is one of the best summer jobs you can have. You get to be your own boss while learning what it takes to manage a business. Sales, marketing, invoicing, bookkeeping, customer relationship, management — these are just a few of the highly useful skills you will develop.

    If you’re accepted into the program, you’ll receive:

    • An award of up to $3,000
      • a first payment of up to $1,500 for start-up costs
      • a second payment of up to $1,500 once you’ve successfully completed the program
    • Hands-on coaching
    • Mentoring from business leaders in your community and from your program provider

    You also get to keep any profits generated through the operation of your business.

    If you have any questions or are ready to sign up, call Mike at 519-631-1680 ext 4504. 

    Starter Company Plus

     *** Please note*** Applications are not currently being accepted for this program. Check back with us in March 2019

    Starter Company Plus is a program of the government of Ontario that helps people over the age of 18 to start their own business, buy or expand an existing business.

    The program provides training and coaching through the Small Business Enterprise Centre, paired with advice and mentorship from local business leaders to help get your business up and running; the option to apply for start-up money to kick off a new business or expand your current business; as well as the experience of running a successful business that may help you obtain more traditional business financing, such as bank loan if you so require in the future.

    You may be eligible to receive up to $5,000 in grant funding  to put towards your business.

    If you have any questions or are ready to sign up, call 519-631-1680 ext 4503 or email smallbiz@stthomas.ca.

    Ontario Works Self Employment Program

    Are you currently receiving Ontario Works assistance?

    Interested in starting your own business?

    Do you have the necessary skills & experience?

    Then the Ontario Works Self Employment Program may be for you!

    The Elgin-St Thomas Ontario Works office, in conjunction with the Elgin/St Thomas Small Business Enterprise Centre, offers a program that assists participants in becoming self-employed.

    The Ontario Works Self Employment Program is designed to help clients start and operate their businesses by providing business planning workshops and advisory support.

    In the program, you will:

    • Create a successful plan to start/grow your business
    • Enhance your business skills
    • Gain access to helpful resources
    • Develop business contacts

    To Apply:

    Contact your Ontario Works caseworker for a referral to an OW Self Employment Program orientation session.

    Other Programs:

    Goodwill Impact Loan

    Impact Loan is on a mission to build lives and community by connecting entrepreneurs to human, social and financial capital.

    What is Impact Loan?
    Impact Loan is a microloan program delivered by Goodwill Industries with a focus on creating a platform for entrepreneurs to become self-sufficient. Impact Loan offers loans of up to $5,000 to new or expanding businesses. Impact Loan also provides business supports such as mentorship and coaching to give entrepreneurs the best chance of success.

    Individuals may be eligible for an Impact Loan if they do not have access to traditional business financing.

    We also look for individuals that:
     Have a business idea and the passion to act on it;
     Are committed to developing a business plan;
     Have skills that can generate self-employment income; or,
     Already run a business and are looking to expand.

    For more information, email smallbiz@stthomas.ca or call 519-631-1680 ext 4503.