A snapshot of programs and successes at YSpace in 2023
Georgina’s partnership with the Town of East Gwillimbury and York University’s YSpace has been wildly successful, supporting many businesses in the initial stages of their entrepreneurship journey and those looking for assistance to expand or grow their business. The best part is that it has all been free to the participants thanks to financial support from the partnership and the Province’s Rural Economic Development grant program.
Between January and October 2023, programming supported more than 600 participants and offered more than 450 hours of mentorship. With in-person and virtual support available at no cost, more businesses in northern York Region are taking advantage of programming after recognizing and spreading the word of their new skills.
Nadya Edwards, an artist in Georgina, first reached out to YSpace Georgina for assistance in helping promote the Georgina Studio Tour as she sits on the event’s steering committee. She started with one-on-one consultations and has participated in peer-to-peer groups. She says she has gained valuable insights into expanding her current offerings and is embracing a fresh perspective on her business strategy.
“YSpace has helped me a lot. The staff are truly amazing. The community connections and expertise of the staff and mentors have been invaluable. I definitely encourage other businesses to sign up. There are great opportunities that will help you. Don't worry about your skill level; there is something for everybody to learn,” ~ Nadya.
This year’s programming included the ongoing program Idea Consultations. Through these one-on-one consultations with a business professional, a defined roadmap aligned to each participant's unique needs is designed, which includes access to additional support or mentorship. This program is a great starting point for any new or existing business exploring options for growth.
Two other programs were launched this year, Business Foundations and Digital Skills for Business. Business Foundations was a workshop series facilitated by nine industry experts that helped more than 192 entrepreneurs enhance their skills, covering topics from building a business plan to marketing and operations. Digital Skills for Business, another workshop series, assisted more than 180 entrepreneurs through topics such as social media, digital marketing, e-commerce, SEO and more.
Aside from the main programs offered in 2023, there have been many other events, including peer-to-peer networking, one-on-one mentoring through “Office Hours,” and use of the meeting co-working space and Town support at 1 Market St. in downtown Sutton.
Jen and Tina, who own What’s Your Damage? Skate Shop, a recent startup, took advantage of many training opportunities at YSpace to help kick-start their business. Originally looking for help online, they discovered YSpace. Their journey included participation in peer-to-peer groups, mentorship programs, invaluable one-on-one consultations and the Digital Skills for Business Program.
“I kind of fell into YSpace by accident. I think I was looking for help with starting a Shopify website, and someone suggested some other programs, so through online searching, Google Shop here came up, and YSpace came up, and with these two services, we soft-launched What’s Your Damage? Skate Shop. I met with Stephanie and she was integral in landing us in their programs. Tina and I joined the various classes that were offered both online and in person. We took plenty of notes and met many like-minded entrepreneurs with local businesses. We met twice a month for informative and inspiring sessions. Through this program, we were invited to connect with Stella from Stella Graphics. She has an eye for small details that make a visual impact online. With her help, we’re tweaking details on our Shopify site and on our social media platforms to help with site performance and brand recognition.” ~ Jen and Tina.
Between Jan.16 and March 16, 2024, 12 workshops will be offered in person and virtually in Georgina and East Gwillimbury through the Digital Skills program that focuses on building an online presence. Entrepreneurs can attend one, or as many sessions as they like that interest them, for free. This series will cover topics about social media, digital marketing, e-commerce, SEO, content creation with AI and how-to-use tools such as Facebook Meta, Google Ads, Computer Basics, Networking, Internet Safety and Google Analytics.
One-on-one consultations, peer sessions and mentorship opportunities will also continue throughout 2024. You can learn more about these programs, including eligibility, at georgina.ca/YSpace.
A new resource is coming in early 2024 that will help businesses build an online presence and promote and sell successfully online. Through Digital Main Street, a Digital Service Squad team member will assess businesses’ online presence and provide recommendations on how to enhance digital capabilities. This service will be offered to anyone located in Georgina and East Gwillimbury at no cost. For updates on this exciting new opportunity and other support available, sign up for the Town’s Economic Development and Tourism eNewsletter.