WOLFVILLE - Everyone has to start somewhere.
Kings-Hants MP Scott Brison, now the President of the Treasury Board for the federal Liberals, spoke of his first entrepreneurial endeavor during a funding announcement hosted at Acadia University’s Patterson Hall Jan. 16.
Brison started a business built around the concept of renting refrigerators to fellow university students in 1988.
“The first year I bought 180 refrigerators. I convinced a financial institution that somehow I was credit worthy, and the second year I actually bought an operation here at Acadia,” said Brison, lightheartedly reflecting on the business venture that arose from an observation that mini fridges appeared to be in demand at universities.
Moving on to the business of the day, Brison stressed that encouraging university students to explore opportunities for entrepreneurship only magnifies with time.
“I think it’s more important today than ever before because the world into which young people are entering, in terms the workforce, is very different than it was 30 or 40 years ago,” said Brison.
“The idea of working for the same company for 30 years and retiring with a defined benefit pension and a gold watch is gone.”
Brison proceeded to announce that the Government of Canada is showing its continued support for the Acadia Entrepreneurship Centre (AEC) through a non-repayable contribution of $270,000 in funding.
“Acadia continues to work with students to develop entrepreneurial skills and mindsets and to provide support to entrepreneurs and SMEs on campus and in Lunenburg, Kings and Hants counties,” said AEC executive director Findlay MacRae in a press release.
“With this funding, we will be able to continue providing entrepreneurship programming and business supports to rural firms. This will help contribute to a stronger economic base in the Central Southwestern region of the province.”
The money was awarded through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency’s Business Development Plan.
“The opportunities in the Valley are changing rapidly and I think the role for the Acadia Entrepreneurship Centre is going to continue to grow, and the role of the Rural Innovation Centre is particularly important,” said Brison, who made the announcement on behalf of ACOA Minister Navdeep Bains.
“You can be based in the Annapolis Valley, but the world is your oyster today. This is one of the exciting things about the Internet.”
AEC offers training, mentorship, development programs as well as innovation and incubation services for entrepreneurs, business and non-profit organizations.
Heather Lunan, owner of Pie-R-Squared in Wolfville, shared the story of how she’s grown a “frozen to fork gluten-free meals” business with some help from AEC and various organizations within the community.
“The journey has been filled with lots of twists and turns and ups and downs… AEC has been there to meet me wherever I was,” she said.
AEC provided counseling, mentorship and support programs while Lunan worked on her business plan.
“This always happened through many, many laughs, some tears, tremendous respect and a cheering section second to none,” she said.
Reflecting on how far she’s come since moving to Nova Scotia from Calgary in 2009, Lunan smiles.
“I’ve always believed that Nova Scotia is nothing less than full of potential and small businesses are part of the tapestry that makes Nova Scotia the amazing place that we’ve chosen to call home.”