Provincial government confirms funding for entrepreneurship programs

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Windsor Star/Carolyn Thompson

While the Windsor region contends with the highest youth unemployment rate in the country, a representative of Ontario’s government travelled to the city to re-announce funding for entrepreneurship programs that have already been running for several years.

“We’re encouraging young people to say, hey, rather than me trying to find a job with someone else, if I’ve got a good idea and I want to be my own boss and employ myself, and eventually employ other people, I can do that,” said Daiene Vernile, parliamentary assistant for the Ministry of Research and Innovation.

“We think that’s where the answers are.”

Vernile announced the renewal of funding for four programs focused on youth entrepreneurship and innovation: the youth business accelerator program, the youth investment accelerator fund and SmartStart seed fund, campus-linked accelerators and on-campus activities, and the TalentEdge internship program. The ministry is providing $27 million provincially, for two years.

“It’s been several years and we’re seeing tremendous success with the youth jobs program. We want to continue this because we see so many people access it,” Vernile said before the presentation at the University of Windsor’s EPICentre. The group also heard from three successful entrepreneurs from the Windsor area.

Vernile said part of her trip involves consulting with youth across the province about challenges they have faced and potential for future investment, such as support for patent fees or better programs for established companies, not just start-ups.

She acknowledged the high youth unemployment rate in Windsor and Essex County, where nearly one in four youth is without work according to Statistics Canada.

“I think we need to look at the cup as being half full,” she said of investment in entrepreneurship.

“That’s where the future is. Rather than saying this isn’t going to work, we’re saying here are the tools, here are the resources, and it’s going to work.”