YSpace receives funding to support northern York Region entrepreneurs

presentation given on colorful board BANNER

The YSpace Northern York Region Hub, an entrepreneurial support centre for small businesses in the towns of Georgina and East Gwillimbury, Ont., has received $150,000 in funding from the government of Ontario’s Rural Economic Development (RED) program.

The initiative – a partnership between YSpace, an entrepreneurship and innovation hub, and the two towns – was launched in 2021 to provide entrepreneurial resources to the local business community. Those resources include mentorship, access to networks and co-working space for collaboration – many of them tailored to address needs specific to the area.

A chief aim of the initiative is to remove barriers to accessing entrepreneurship and business acceleration for rural communities , whether those involved are startups or existing enterprises. A dedicated space has offered virtual and in-person opportunities as well as access to computers, internet, video conferencing solutions, photography tools for e-commerce and online content creation, collaboration spaces, programming support and business community resources.

At the time of the launch York’s Vice-President of Research and Innovation Amir Asif, said, “We look forward to further strengthening this partnership and witnessing the ideas that participating entrepreneurs bring to life – contributing to the region’s knowledge-based economy and creating positive change in their communities and beyond.”

David Kwok
David Kwok

David Kwok, director of entrepreneurship and innovation at YSpace, says in the past few years, they’ve made great progress towards that mission. “Since opening our doors in 2021, we have supported over 700 individuals in Georgina and East Gwillimbury through educational workshops and specialized programming focusing on pivotal areas such as business plan development and digital marketing.”

Now, with the new funding from RED, it can continue to do so.

The RED program looks to support projects that diversify rural economies, retain skilled workers and create jobs in local communities. It also aspires to help better position rural communities to attract or retain investment, and enhance economic growth, while diversifying local economies.  

With that in mind, YSpace plans to further enhance its entrepreneurial support service. “This new funding will enable us to continue our work and launch a new mentorship program that is customized to the unique needs of local business owners,” says Kwok. The program will see an expansion of one-on-one mentorship opportunities for aspiring and established entrepreneurs in the region.

The hub will pursue recruiting experienced mentors from diverse industries and backgrounds, ensuring that entrepreneurs receive tailored guidance and expertise relevant to their specific business needs. Through those personalized mentorship relationships, the goal is to empower entrepreneurs to overcome obstacles, make informed decisions and achieve their business goals, ultimately contributing to the economic development and prosperity of the community.

In that way, YSpace continues to live up to what Rhonda Lenton, president and vice-chancellor of the University, said when the Northern York Region Hub was announced: “York University is committed to leveraging the success of YSpace’s entrepreneurship programs and make available customized resources to support economic growth and prosperity for the Towns of Georgina and East Gwillimbury. We look forward to continuing this relationship, and building greater access to entrepreneurship for all businesses in the region.”