Ontario East entrepreneurs can learn from success stories in Lennox and Addington County
Lennox & Addington Economic Development is bringing the county’s entrepreneurs together. Called the “Made it in L&A Business Collective”, a new initiative kicked off with three sessions at the Kaladar Community Centre, the Royal Coachman Restaurant in Napanee, and the Loyalist Grill in Bath.
The “Made it in L&A Business Collective” is a full county business opportunity involving business owners in the county’s four municipalities – Greater Napanee, Loyalist, Stone Mills and Addington Highlands.
“This exciting new business networking program is designed to bring entrepreneurs together make business connections and generate business collaborations and growth,” says Stephen Paul, Manager, Lennox & Addington Economic Development. “It’s all about entrepreneurs meeting entrepreneurs. Typically, business owners are busy working around the clock and they don’t always get a chance to meet their business neighbours in various parts of the county.”
Paul adds, “When they come out and talk about what they do, hopefully they will inspire some people to take their dreams and go the distance.”
One of the companies at the Napanee session is a case in point. Stinson Studios has been operating just outside Tamworth for 30 years. Don Stinson and his son Jesse explained how they have produced unique handmade wooden salad bowls, sculptural burl art, and table top ware, selling to individuals, restaurants, and art galleries in Canada, the United States and around the world.
A more familiar business was the evening’s host, the Royal Coachman Restaurant. Owner Randy Farrar demonstrated how the restaurant has adapted over the 25 years it has been in business. The restaurant has recently added an outdoor tent, which is suitable for weddings and other large gatherings. It also continues its emphasis on being a “destination” restaurant, where people come to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and other special events.
Although she hasn’t been in business quite as long, Rita Palumbo owner of Zia Rita’s Gluten Free Bakery in Bath, had some valuable advice for those starting out. One of the keys is being able to adapt. She noted her business plan has changed four times in the last four years as she incorporated more ways to be successful.
As well as celebrating businesses that are already successful, the Business Collective will send a positive message to others. “For those who are looking to start a business, we wanted to show that you can make it here in L&A,” says Paul. “And for those who are in high school and college, who may be thinking of leaving the community, we want to show them that if you have a good idea, you can be successful and there is an environment here to help you be successful.”
The success stories in L&A can also inspire other entrepreneurs in Ontario East.
“We work regionally to bring investment into Ontario East, and I think getting our businesses talking regionally would make a difference as well,” says Paul. “It’s not competition. If one community does well, it will help other communities do well.”