Airdrie has launched its SmartStart program for entrepreneurs for 2021 as a virtual online program.

The SMARTstart program is delivered by the City of Airdrie Economic Development Department, Bow Valley College, and Community Futures West. Tara Levick who sits on the committee and is the SMARTstart Entrepreneur Coordinator said applications were opened in the fall and they held a virtual launch of their revamped version for the new year on February 25th, The program pairs entrepreneurs with mentors to help them develop the skills they need to run a successful business, 

"The program was developed to help businesses set up correctly, give them a kind of in, into the Airdrie business community but also help them get over that five-year hump. The stats are not good for businesses getting over that five-year hump and this program was designed to help them do that." 

She also said they went virtual this year because they weren't sure what would be happening with COVID-19 so decided it was best to keep it online and that despite the change, the program was still a hit, 

"Businesses are still opening here and we have a great pool of local volunteer mentors that are a part of the program that honestly just want to give back and support the new and upcoming entrepreneurs." 

Ten entrepreneurs, representing eight businesses, have been accepted into this year’s program. Over the course of eight months, the entrepreneurs will complete the 100 Essential Business Skills online training from the GoForth Institute, participate in 11 workshops and work with a mentor on the completion of a business, feasibility, or strategic plan.

Launched in 2014, SMARTstart has assisted 115 local entrepreneurs with their new business or business ideas. As a result, 20 new businesses have opened their doors and 31 businesses have expanded their operations or services

More information about the SMARTStart program can be found on their website, it's an annual program, and applications to take part will re-open again in the fall. 


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