The Nottawasaga Community Futures Economic Development Corporation (Nottawasaga Futures) is a one-stop resource for entrepreneurs seeking expert advice, mentorship, access to programs and services to enhance their chances for business success.
A valued partner for many businesses in Bradford-West Gwillimbury, Nottawasaga Futures offers a suite of programs to help start a new business, help an existing business remain resilient and successful and help others to scale and grow, part of which includes fostering opportunities for grants and other forms of funding.
“We were created to provide entrepreneurial support for our host communities, which are the five municipalities that comprise South Simcoe. So that is Adjala-Tosorontio, New Tecumseth, Innisfil, Essa and Bradford West Gwillimbury,” said. Martin Kuzma, CEO of Nottawasaga Futures.
“We can help entrepreneurs in a number of ways, depending on what type of business they are opening, including at the beginning of the process to help them determine what kind of business would be most suitable for them, how to start the business, how to register the business – we have created something like a checklist of things people need to do when starting their business. When someone comes to us with an idea for a business, we can evaluate their business plan. Sometimes that means having to give them a dose of reality in terms of their expectations, but we try to do this without dampening their enthusiasm.”
Nottawasaga Futures acts as both an information clearing house for all aspects of starting, sustaining and growing a business, as well a facilitator for entrepreneurs looking for particular expertise, business coaching and mentorship – anything to help them along their journey.
“For example with our partners at BWG Economic Development, we have helped many Bradford-based businesses do exactly that – help them get set up, provide them with practical resources and information from one source so they don’t have to do a lot of running around, answer any questions they have along the process and even provide some basic business training,” Kuzma explained.
“We have also helped a number of Bradford businesses scale up through our Community Investment Loan Fund, which provides up to $300,000 in loans to new, existing or expanding businesses. Sometimes we can also partner with the Business Development Bank of Canada [BDC] or other lenders if the ask is bigger. And because we have a vast economic ecosystem here in Simcoe County, wherever there is a gap in our programs, we can direct a business owner to the agency or organization that fills that gap, and which offers the support, services and expertise they need.”
Over the past few years, businesses across a number of economic sectors have benefited from the programs and services of Nottawasaga Futures in BWG, including in the retail, service and accommodation sectors, with the majority of them being small, so-called ‘mom and pop’ operations with five or fewer employees.
Two unique initiatives orchestrated by Nottawasaga Futures, in conjunction with other stakeholder groups and municipalities focus on very specific industries: Agriculture, the foundation for growth and prosperity in BWG in particular for a century and a half and a burgeoning film and television sector.
Nottawasaga Futures operates as a film liaison for production companies wanting to film in South Simcoe. Shows such as Nightmare Alley, The Handmaid’s Tale, American Gods and even some Hallmark Christmas movies have used settings throughout the region, bringing in about $100,000 a year for the local economy.
About 12 productions are hosted each year, but with the abating of the COVID issue, Kuzma said more and more shows are expected.
Nottawasaga Community Futures has developed the South Simcoe Agriculture Action Plan to “strengthen the agricultural sector within South Simcoe to enable the sustainability of not only this sector, but to enhance the opportunities of the existing food processors within the region and enable the attraction of additional food processors to complete the cluster,” said the Nottawasaga Futures website.
“Some farmers aren’t natural entrepreneurs so we try to teach them those skills and also help them with troubleshooting and keeping up-to-date on business trends and innovative technology that could improve their operation, which will keep them competitive. Every year for the past five years we have released a report on the latest trends in agriculture around the province and around the country,” said Kuzma.
“Farming businesses have access to all the traditional resources and services that we provide, including the Business Excellence Resource Centre and all that comes with it. We partner with the different farmers’ associations in the area to bring in guest speakers or access webinars and other sources of information.”
All services are free-of-charge with funding for the Nottawasaga Community Futures Economic Development Corporation coming from both the Government of Canada and Government of Ontario. The Town of BWG also contributes annual funding through the Office of Economic Development to ensure local businesses receive free one-on-one consultation.
For more information, visit https://nottawasaga.com.