PORT HOOD: “I am loving it! It’s such an exciting role to be in. To have a centre here, specifically to support female entrepreneurs – through all stages of growth – is very exciting.”
Port Hood native Courtney Schmidt has accepted the position of business advisor for the new Cape Breton office of Mount Saint Vincent University’s Centre for Women in Business. The office is located in Sydney and will service the entire Cape Breton region.
The Sydney office of the Centre for Women in Business will provide clients with face-to-face business advisory, marketing and research sessions pertaining to each and every aspect of entrepreneurship – from getting a fledgling idea off the ground, to the expansion of a pre-existing business.
“If you’re working a full-time job and not sure how to get started, or maybe you already have a multi-million-dollar business and need to connect with other organizations. We really want to make sure that people have the skill set, and the understanding of the process, to grow their own business.”
Prior to the opening of the Cape Breton office, meeting with a Centre representative would require clients to travel to the office in Halifax. To further improve accessibility for the program, Schmidt will personally travel throughout the Cape Breton Regional Municipality and rural areas to meet with clients and prospective clients.
In the Strait area, she will hold regular office hours from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., in the boardroom at the Strait Area Chamber of Commerce.
“Getting out to the rural communities is a very important part of this job,” Schmidt noted. “The reason the centre came to Cape Breton was because business women in [this area] really expressed the need for this type of program. That’s why we are here, we are answering the need.”
Growing up in a family of entrepreneurial business woman, Schmidt was steeped in a climate of innovation and perseverance. She says her advisory position with Women in Business is a great fit. Majoring in marketing and entrepreneurship, at Saint Mary’s University, her new position allows her to provide a level of assistance to female business owners that her family did not have when she was growing up.
“I come from a family-run business and they were members of the Centre [for Women in Business] for years. We would always have to drive to Halifax for the services and events, to stay in the hotel and stay for the training. That can be hard – it’s time away from the family and from the business. So, it’s really important that the centre is located here.”
Schmidt says the centre contains a great group of professionals who share a common goal of helping women who wish to grow their own business. She encourages all aspiring entrepreneurs to reach out for assistance.
“That’s the hard part, knowing where to go when you have an idea and are thinking of starting a business,” Schmidt said. “When you have a hurdle and you don’t know who to ask for help. That’s what I noticed in my family’s business. Here in Cape Breton there such potential for mentorship, we can refer you to economic development organizations, we can advise, answer those questions and guide you.”
The Sydney office is a two-year pilot project, and the result of several years of work to bring the Centre for Women in Business to Cape Breton. It is funded through federal government assistance from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, through the regional economic growth innovation program.