Provincial program helping boost small business and entrepreneurs in Southern Alberta

By Geoff Smith (@GeoffSmithLNN on Twitter)
October 4, 2017 - 10:10am Updated: October 4, 2017 - 12:20pm

LETHBRIDGE - New programs and workshops will be offered by a Lethbridge small business incubator, thanks to some new funding from the province.

Tecconnect, located in the Sherring Industrial Park, is a 10,000 sq. ft. facility that since 2011 has been providing local startups with office space and support. The province announced $400,000 in funding from the Alberta Entrepreneurship Incubator program, to the Regional Innovation Network of Southern Alberta (RINSA). It will be put towards training and mentorship sessions under the umbrella of Tecconnect+ed.

"Diversification's really important, to get Alberta off that boom and bust cycle, and one of the ways we can do that is by supporting our young entrepreneurs, particularly in the tech sector," Lethbridge-West MLA Shannon Phillips said.

Trevor Lewington, CEO of Economic Development Lethbridge, explained it means they can provide mentorship, training, and to support the Tecconnect facility and other similar spaces.

One entrepreneur who has been helped by Tecconnect is Rick Johnston, founder of Autovance, an automotive sales software company located in the facility. He said this is putting Lethbridge on an even playing field as a home for tech startups.

"There were a lot of great programs put on in Calgary and Edmonton, but we didn't get a lot of that here in Lethbridge," Johnston said. "This funding helps to bring those programs closer to us, and that can mean either bringing support into Lethbridge for those programs to actually happen here, or to help us get up to Calgary and take them."

Lewington said it will help not just Tecconnect's nine clients, but all the entrepreneurs who are part of RINSA.

"The first offering through this program was just a couple of weeks ago. We had three sessions, we had over 74 entrepreneurs attend those three sessions," he said. "So I think that's an indicator of how important this program is, and how much demand there is in the system for that kind of training."

Upcoming sessions deal with topics like market analysis, regulation, and creative financing.

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