Whether loaning a new business some start-up cash, or helping an established firm to secure funding to expand, The Venture Centre/Le Centre de développement has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to giving Timmins’ business community a leg up. “This past year has been particularly productive and successful; we’ve put over $1 million into the community in small business loans,” said Ellen Sinclair, Executive Director. “We’re here to stimulate business, so we take higher risks and more flexible terms than banks generally will.” As Timmins’ local Community Futures Development Corporation, The Venture Centre / Le Centre de développement is funded by the federal government through FedNor, and offers a broad range of services: community economic planning and development, funding for community projects and loans for small businesses, as well as business counseling, services and commercial resources. Staff also work with other communities within the organization’s catchment area, including Foleyet, Gogama, Mattagami First Nations, and Shining Tree. Under the guidance of a volunteer Board of Directors, the seven-member staff of the Venture Centre has a strong focus on stimulating the economy while keeping all decision-making on projects strictly local. “Whether it’s a business venture or a community venture, we look to our own resources to make the loan - we don’t have to go to a headquarters in southern Ontario to make that decision,” said Sinclair. Having been with the Venture Centre for 15 years, Sinclair has seen Timmins grow and expand as its business community has diversified, and notes that this past year of high lending has occurred alongside Timmins’ current economic boom. “I think people are feeling good about the economy and are looking more at starting businesses and getting things moving.” The organization built upon this optimism last November with the establishment of a new Business Resource Centre, located within the Venture Centre office at the 101 Mall. Designed as a multi-tool for start-up businesses, this space allows budding entrepreneurs to research their business ideas, develop their business plan, apply for funding, register their business, and get staff advice on financing. In keeping with the organization’s mandate to stimulate economic development, use of the space and consultations with staff are free of charge. This commitment to building the community has also prompted the Venture Centre to build numerous partnerships, including its role in helping to move the citywide Timmins 2020 project forward. “We’re very excited about ‘I’m In,’ and can’t wait to see the branding project really unfold,” said Sinclair. This spirit of collaboration has also allowed the organization to become an active participant in the Timmins Chamber of Commerce network. “We’re fiercely proud of our Chamber. I really think the Chamber keeps the business community well-oiled and connected to each other.” The Venture Centre also assists with Timmins’ business climate through a score of youth training programs. It has partnered with the Nishnawbe Aski Development Fund on an Aboriginal youth business training course for the past two years, and participates in a pan-northern initiative for increased youth entrepreneurship training. “We run about eight different programs for kids, just to try to engender that entrepreneurial spirit in them,” said Sinclair. “When they’re thinking of what career path to take, we want them to consider that they could possibly work for themselves.” Visit the Venture Centre at 134 Pine Street North (101 Mall) Suite 38, open Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.. You can call them at (705) 360-5800, and find them online at http://www.venturecentre.on.ca. Click here to see the full-sized image.