Programs to reach your small business goals in 2022

Invest WindsorEssex and Small Business & Entrepreneurship Centre exterior office

The Small Business & Entrepreneurship Centre (SBEC) at Invest WindsorEssex receives a burst in interest in January from new and existing clients who are eager to take their businesses to the next level.

Throughout 2022, SBEC is offering several programs geared towards pre-revenue, startup and scaling small businesses in Windsor-Essex. Here is an overview of its upcoming programs and important dates to remember. Full program details are available at

Digital Main Street  

Since 2019, the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Centre has delivered the Digital Main Street (DMS) program to small businesses in Windsor-Essex. The centre employees a Digital Service Squad — a team of digital marketing specialists who provide one-on-one assistance to bricks-and-mortar small businesses to help them grow their digital presence and adopt new technologies. Their services, part of the DMS program, also include helping businesses apply for a $2,500 Digital Transformation Grant from DMS. The recent round of Digital Transformation Grants concluded last November but is expected to return in 2022. The Digital Service Squad continues to meet with eligible small businesses in Windsor-Essex free-of-charge.

Foodpreneur Advantage

Ontario’s food and beverage manufacturing sector is the third largest in North America, and there are more than 100 food and beverage processing companies in Windsor-Essex. The Foodpreneur Advantage program offers support for small food and beverage processors in southwestern Ontario. The program features a series of introductory seminars and training opportunities to support entrepreneurs looking to get a start in the industry. There is also Foodpreneur Advantage Scale-Up program, a comprehensive 10-week training and mentorship program geared to businesses that produce consumer packaged goods and have demonstrated high potential to scale operations. The program connects entrepreneurs to industry experts and mentoring opportunities and provides them with an opportunity to receive a $5,000 business grant. The introductory seminars begin on Jan. 20, and Foodpreneur Advantage Scale-Up returns this March.

Growing Creative Careers: Windsor & Region

The Small Business & Entrepreneurship Centre has partnered with WorkInCulture and Arts Council Windsor & Region to deliver the Growing Creative Careers: Windsor & Region program. Growing Creative Careers is an intensive professional development experience for artists, creatives and cultural workers living in Windsor-Essex. Applications close on Jan. 20 for Cohort 2: Building Better Boards, which is aimed at supporting, growing and sustaining healthy boards of directors in our local arts organizations. The program offers participants workshops, access to online resources and local experts and facilitated peer mentoring circles. The program is offered annually until 2023.

Reinvent This Space

The Small Business & Entrepreneurship Centre and Municipality of Leamington have launched the Reinvent This Space competition to support local small businesses, spur economic development and revitalize Leamington’s uptown commercial district. Participants in the Reinvent This Space program receive business development training, mentorship and a chance to pitch for a $15,000 grant. The grant assists an entrepreneur with rent for 12 months in a vacant storefront in uptown Leamington. 

Applications close on Jan. 21 and the program will run until the end of March.

Starter Company PLUS

Since 2015, the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Centre has delivered Starter Company PLUS in Windsor-Essex. This Ontario government program is geared towards individuals interested in starting, growing or purchasing a small business. The program offers a grant of up to $5,000 as well as access to training, mentoring, networking and one-on-one consulting support.

The program will run in the fall of 2022 with applications opening in late summer. 

Summer Company

Summer Company is an Ontario government program delivered locally by the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Centre since 2001. It provides high school and post-secondary students with the resources and training to start a new summer business. Full-time students, aged 15-29, receive hands-on business education, advice and mentorship from local business leaders and a grant of up to $3,000.

Applications for Summer Company are accepted between January and May and the program runs from June to August.

Read the January 2022 edition of Business Windsor-Essex

This article was first published on Jan. 12 in Business Windsor-Essex, a new quarterly publication from The Windsor Star. Business Windsor-Essex aims to connect audiences to insights from the business leaders, politics and community organizations that are shaping Windsor-Essex. Each edition partners with local industry experts to be the source of awareness, advice and analysis for entrepreneurs, SMEs and large enterprises alike.