‘Start Up Port Hawkesbury’ launched

    PORT HAWKESBURY: Taking a page from reality television, organizers of a new contest are looking to draw new business to town.

    On July 1, the Eastern-Strait Regional Enterprise Network (ESREN) and the Town of Port Hawkesbury launched Start-Up Port Hawkesbury, a contest with the goal of stimulating the local economy. John Beaton, CEO of the ESREN, described the competition as “like Dragon’s Den”, the popular television show where business owners try to convince backers to invest in an idea. It will involve three rounds, with the first round involving people submitting a 90-second video describing a business idea and why they want to open a business in Port Hawkesbury.

    “They’ll be judged after September 1 and then round two is in front of a live panel of judges, where they present a business concept,” said Beaton, noting the plan is to narrow the contest down to three participants, who will then present a final business plan. He said the final stage will likely happen during small business week in November.

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    “If they win, they will get two years of free rent at a business location in Port Hawkesbury of their choice,” said Beaton, noting there are a number of location options. “They’ll also get pro-bono legal service, $20,000 per-approval on business financing, and there are some other things. We’re constantly building that package as we go.”

    Beaton said the idea stems from discussions with the town about spurring local business activity, particularly around start-ups.

    “We thought we would bring out the best in people in terms of a competition and see what kind of ideas people come up with,” said Beaton. “We’re very excited because very early on in this contest we’re already seeing a significant interest in people wanting to start a business and that’s the key to creating jobs and boosting the economy, according to the One Nova Scotia Report.”

    Beaton said organizers are hoping people will submit their videos as soon as possible, noting interested parties can visit the contest Web site at www.esren.ca and click on the Start-Up Port Hawkesbury link.