North Bay has survived the cyclical rides of Northern Ontario’s resource-dependent economy better than most communities because of its plethora of diversified small- and medium-sized companies.
Many of the community’s success stories have been homegrown entrepreneurs who have started their ventures as home-based businesses.
Working with fledgling entrepreneurs and instilling confidence in the next generation of would-be business owners is the mission of North Bay’s Business Centre-Nipissing Parry Sound.
Based in North Bay city hall, the business start-up organization encourages young entrepreneurs and annually recognizes them with an awards gala now running into its sixth year.
The centre headed by manager Karen Jones and youth coordinator Megan Lee, has forged links with area school boards in promoting education and business awareness at the high school level through the FedNor Secondary School Business Plan Challenge.
This year, sponsors FedNor, the Ministry of Small Business and Entrepreneurship, and the City of North Bay gave away $2,500 in cash and gifts for students with 11 awards handed out. The 13 participants in the provincial government’s Summer Company program were also recognized.
With the support of 12 schools and four area school boards, The Business Centre promotes the competition to students each fall working through their teachers, many of whom incorporate the contest guidelines right into their class curriculum.
“The bulk of the submissions come from business classes but it’s open to all students,” says Lee. Through a judging and evaluation process, their authors present the top three plans before a panel of judges who select first, second and third place finishers.
The judging criteria were based on the structure and aspect of their plan, content, creativity and overall knowledge of their concept during presentation.
High school-age students can enter two categories through the business and marketing plan challenges.
This year, North Bay’s West Ferris Secondary School took home first place finishes in both categories.
Seventeen-year-old Nicholas Korhonen’s business plan for “Frosty Treats” earned him top honours while Grade 11 student Kayla Tennant pocketed $500 for her marketing plan, “The Table is Set.”
The Business Centre has formed, what teacher Karen Bond describes as “wonderful partnership,” in working with two school area boards — the Near North District School Board and the Nipissing-Parry Sound Catholic District School Board — to form the Business Studies Subject Council. The idea being to further enhance business studies in the classroom by integrating the competition right into the classroom material. The organizations are jointly working on an entrepreneurship website.
In place of a final exam, students prepare either a business or marketing plan as part of a year-end assessment project representing 30 per cent of their final grade.
Bond says having that kind of education and experience is a great fallback plan for students.
“Their career choices they make going on into post-secondary education may or may not work out at some point and they can take their passion and turn it into a business.”
Especially important are the “soft skills” of teamwork, time management and presentation abilities, customer service and good communication.
And no question, she says, the prize package is a great incentive.
Bond says she “definitely” sees some future entrepreneurs in her latest crop of students. “Kayla will be an entrepreneur for sure. She already has plans of opening up her own beautician shop.” She estimates close to 40 per cent of her students will open their own businesses at some point.
Nicholas Korhonen’s concept to revive the long departed Dickee-Dee ice cream tricycles with his “Frosty Treats” plan came with an extensive local marketing survey of more than 100 people. “I saw that gap and decided to write my business plan on that.”
Selling ice cream on a hot day at the waterfront or during Heritage Festival represented a “huge opportunity” for success. Korhonen spent more than $50 on flyers, business cards and designed his own billboards and radio spots.
While not intending to work this specific plan, Korhonen has an engineering idea to run household appliances on hydrogen, a project he entered in a science fair.
The 17-year-old began working at a young age washing dishes and making boxes at his father’s Pizza Hut, where he still works 20 to 40 hours.
Always busy, he is considering the University of Waterloo’s accounting program in two years and has full intentions of someday starting his own business. “I’m the type of person that doesn’t like to be told what to do all the time. It’s nice to make your own decisions.”
Mattawa’s Cheryl Beazley using the contest’s framework in her Enterprising Person program, a business class at F.J. McElligott Secondary School. The personal development course is intended to encourage students to utilize entrepreneurial skills in all facets of their life and career.
“Whether or not they end up working for somebody else, we’re trying to show them that they can be enterprising.”
Her class of 20 students all prepared business plans with six proposals being submitted for the competition ranging from a landscaping business, to twig furniture production, a babysitting service and a Main Street cafe.
“The kids were really excited about competing against other students” rather just run in-house competitions.
“Megan and Karen have the program so well done that it’s fairly easy to guide your class through it. It was a good resource for a starting (first-year) teacher.
North Bay entrepreneur Ryan Davies is one of 13 participants featured to start up their own Summer Company, a provincial program run through the Business Centre.
The 20-year-old founder of Northland Contracting and Landscaping wants to take advantage of the city’s vibrant home building boom. His specialty is installing and repairing interlocking stone and retaining walls, as well as property maintenance. As a one-man operation working about 30 hours per week, he also does contract work for other businesses.
“I’ll do anything I can get my hands on,” says Davies. “I’ve been in the position where it’s hard to find good help, I’ve put myself out there to a few contractors in town.”
Now entering his third year enrolled in Canadore College’s Business Administration, his aspiration is to open up his own business and stay in North Bay.
The Business Centre-Nipissing Parry Sound
Contact: Megan Lee
The Business Centre-Nipissing Parry Sound
705-474-0400 ex. 441, cell number 492-7126
Cheryl Beazley, Mattawa, FJ McElligott
Karen Bond - West Ferris Secondary School - 497-0730 ext 218
Nicholas Korhonen - Can be reached at West Ferris Secondary School
Through Karen Bond or Amy Gauthier- 497-0730 ext 218 or 1559
Ryan Davies (Summer Company Participant) - “Northland Contracting and Landscaping” - 497-1417 (home) or (705) 845 - 8166 (cell)
The Winners of the 2006 FedNor Secondary School Business Plan Challenge include:
FedNor Secondary School Business Plan Challenge
Business Plan Challenge
1st Place - Nicholas Korhonen, a West Ferris Secondary School student won $800 for his business plan “Frosty Treats” and will be going on to compete at the Regional level.
2nd Place - Yogi Turgeon, a Chippewa Secondary School student won $500 for his business plan “ Urban Destruction.
3rd Place - Ki Hoon Nam, a Chippewa Secondary School student won $300 for his business plan “Key Tour”
Most Innovative - “The Icemen”, a plan written by Mike Madigan, Aron Hill and Jason Fitszimmons of St. Joseph Scollard Hall won for the Most Innovative business plan.
Most Viable - “Helpin’ Hand Grocery Run”, a plan written by Laura Seiko and Adrienne Maclaurin of West Ferris Secondary School won for the Most Viable business plan.
Marketing Plan Challenge
1st Place - Kayla Tennant, a West Ferris Secondary School student won $500 for her marketing plan “The Table is Set”.
2nd Place - Eric Laferriére, a student from école secondaire catholique Algonquin won $300 for his marketing plan “Clean Rides”.
3rd Place - Jessica McCarthy, a West Ferris Secondary School student won $100 for her marketing plan “Taxi Mom Service”.
Most Innovative - “Who takes the dog out?”, a marketing plan written by Sylvie Alarie of école secondaire catholique Algonquin won for the Most Innovative marketing plan.
Most Viable - “Ayotte’s
Tutoring”, a marketing plan written by Jocelyn Ayotte of école secondaire catholique Algonquin won for the Most Viable marketing plan.
Special Recognition Award - The Business Studies Subject Council which consists of representatives of two school boards - Near North DSB and Nipissing Parry Sound Catholic DSB - was awarded this special recognition for their dedication and continuous support of The Business Centre and the FedNor Secondary School Business Plan Challenge.
This provincial program offered to students between the ages of 15-29 awards participants with up to $3,000 to start their own Summer Company. This summer The Business Centre has 13 participants in the program who are featured below.
Aspen Conlin (705) 724-3678 - “Aspeniculars”. Selling handmade purses, soaps and crafts.
Mariah Craig (705) 476-7808- “The Receipts Filer”.
A receipt sorting, organizing and summarizing service for small businesses.
Ryan Davies (705) 497-1417 - “Northland Contracting and Landscaping”. A landscaping business that meets client needs.
Eric Dennis (705) 474-7617 - “ED Solutions”. Computer repair, builds and multimedia services.
Shawn Fetterly (705) 472-0835 - “U-Rock Guitar Lessons”. Individually designed beginner and intermediate level guitar lessons
Adam Filiatrault (705) 474-2080 - “Adam Filiatrault Contracting”. A general contracting company.
Derrick Johnstone (705) 384-5450 - “124 Paintball”.
A recreational paintball gaming business.
Blaine Kennedy (705) 472-4789 - “Spiffy’s Car Care”. An interior and exterior car cleaning service.
Carolyn Mayne (705) 494-8358 - “2Dye4”. A business selling tie-dyed t-shirts and bags.
Michael Noah (705) 476-6747 - “Cheat Design”.
A graphic design business.
Jessica Penney (705) 497-3383 - “Kids At Play”.
A summer day camp for children.
Mackenzie Sinclair (705) 384-7484 - “Wood Eh!”
A wood cutting business providing split wood to the community.
Jesse Whitney (705) 386-1821 - “J & F Firewood”.
Providing wood to home and cottage owners.