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Economic Development eNews | April 18, 2023

Business Profile

Wags, Whiskers and Wings Bring Pet Supplies to Villages

WESTPORT - When a door closed behind Kate Cook, she was quick to open two new ones.

Her fledging company Wags, Whiskers and Wings Pet Supplies now has two locations in Leeds Grenville villages - her hometown of Westport and more recently Merrickville.

"It's been a whirlwind and has felt crazy at times," says Kate. "But it's exciting as I've always wanted to open a business."

The Westport flagship store opened in 2020. It grew so rapidly it expanded to a larger location in two years. The Merrickville shop was launched last October as soon as a good downtown location became available.

"This is her brain child," Barb Cook says of her daughter Kate's vision. Kate returned to her family home after the pandemic forced job losses at a Guelph-based quick lube shop she managed. Once home in Westport, she asked her dad, Rob, what the average village consumer needed. The answer? Pet supplies with the goal of helping pet owners stay in their own communities with no need to travel for accessories, high-quality treats, food and birdseed.

"I've always loved animals. They are my obsession," says Kate, a pet owner who does her homework when looking for quality products. Her triple-W store name represents dogs (Wags), cats (Whiskers) and birds (Wings).

"I love being able to work with my family and people have been incredibly welcoming in both communities," Kate says, adding she would not have believed just a few short years ago she would have a business with two locations. The success of the business is a true family effort. Kate employs her parents and sister, Elise. Her mom and dad have come out of retirement to help. They aren't surprised Kate's business has taken off. She was an award-winning Junior Achiever and has a college business diploma.

"Many people have told us we should have done this long ago," says Rob.

The shops offer unique doggie snack bars, a selection of dog treats you can mix and match with reusable jars, toys, clothing, collars, specialty foods and nutritional products, as well as top quality dog and cat foods and birdseed (developed by a bird nutritionist and tailored to the season). They focus on Canadian made products first when possible. You can make special orders and they ship Canada wide.

"I love being able to work with my family and people have been incredibly welcoming in both communities," Kate says, adding she would not have believed just a few short years ago she would have a business with two locations.

Learn more by visiting their website, Facebook and Instagram pages. You can also send them an email. The Westport store is in the former Rosie Yumski's location at 24 Church Street. Call 613-273-9247. In Merrickville they are at 211 St. Lawrence Street. Call 613-269-2497.

Top feature photo: Young entrepreneur Kate Cook, right, with cat Spyro, her parents Barb and Rob Cook and Co-op student Johnathan Graham. Photo below: Kate with a Canada Pooch raincoat.

Above photo: Johnathan with a selection of Hambro Village wool houses for cats. Made in Nepal, they are sourced by a Canadian company. Below photo: Selection of dog food.

Celebrating Business

Rideau Lakes Business Award winners from left are Terry Wills, President of Wills Transfer Ltd., Tao Hipwell, owner of the Bastard Coffee Shop, and Dane Sonstenes, owner/operator of Elgin Bowling Lanes.

Business Leaders, Innovators Recognized in Rideau Lakes

NEWBORO - Wills Transfer Limited is the Rideau Lakes Township Business of the Year.

The multi-generational family company earned the top reward at the Business Recognition Awards on Friday, April 14th. The annual event is hosted by the Rideau Lakes Economic Development Committee and attracted a full house to the Newboro Community Hall.

"This is a great honour for our family and our company and recognizes our deep roots in the community," said President Terry Wills. The business started off small in 1945 and today employs more than 200 people. The warehousing and third-party logistics firm has its headquarters in Rideau Lakes with warehouses in several Ontario locations. Wills Transfer partners with many community charities and organizations. The Wills family has roots in Rideau Lakes Township dating back to the mid 1800s.

The Business Innovation Award was earned by Elgin Bowling Lanes and its owner Dane Sonstenes. He is credited with attracting people to the Village of Elgin year round as a family friendly destination through marketing and hosting a bowling league attracting regional interest.

The Young Entrepreneur Award was presented to Tao Hipwell, owner of the Bastard Coffee Shop in Delta. Tao is recognized for her considerable time and investment renovating heritage space in the village's Jubilee Block. She brings vitality to the village by organizing live music events featuring local musicians.

A total of 21 businesses were nominated for the three awards in recognition of their contributions to the community.

Front of Yonge Township Honours Top Businesses

MALLORYTOWN - The dogs have it!

Two Front of Yonge Township businesses offering dog services are the joint recipients of the Top Business of the Year Award 2023.

Apple Ridge Farm Dog Daycare and Boarding, located on Caintown Road, and deTails Dog Grooming, of Mallorytown, are this year's winners. Apple Ridge owners Amanda and John Riemersma and deTails owner Chantel Hunt high fived after hearing they are sharing the award.

"We absolutely love what we do," Amanda said after receiving the honour before a crowd of about 100 at the Front of Yonge Business Recognition Award Breakfast April 12th at the Mallorytown Legion. The awards were designed by local artist and Artfully Recycled owner Laurie Sponagle, of the township.

"I would like to say thank you to the community for trusting us with your pets," said Chantel, who has been in the Top 10 for Groom Team Canada for several years.

The New Business of the Year/Entrepreneur was presented to Arbru Solar Brewery owner Phil Audet and operations manager Stacie Stephenson. The operation on Quabbin Hill Road opened last year and is the first destination brewery in the country operating solely on solar power. Phil is a recent graduate of Starter Company Plus and has received the Digital Transformation Grant through the Digital Main Street Program.

This is the second year for the Business Awards Breakfast hosted by the Township and its Community Development Committee. The guest speaker was David Beatty, CEO of Canarm Ltd.

Above photo: Joint Business of the Year Winners Amanda and John Riemersma, left and centre, owners of Apple Ridge Farm Dog Daycare and Boarding, and Chantel Hunt, right, owner of deTails Dog Grooming. Below photo: New Business of the Year winners Phil Audet and Stacie Stephenson of Arbru Solar Brewery.

Summer Company

Summer Company Success Story!

Janevra Pier, of Bakery by the Pier in Gananoque, baked up a storm last summer with her fresh vegan sourdough bagels using locally sourced flour. She also experimented with vegan spreads to accompany the bagels as well as other sweet, wholesome treats. Janevra sold her bagels at markets and events around Gananoque and at the online market last summer. Janevra was the 2022 Award of Excellence winner for Outstanding Achievement. She continued her business on a casual basis after Summer Company was completed. Janevra is completing her Grade 12 high school year. See her creations on Instagram.

Applications for Summer 2023

Be your own boss like Janevra! Summer Company provides hands-on business training and mentoring in addition to a grant of $3,000 to help enterprising students (ages 15-29) start-up and run their own summer business. Students gain insight into business creation and risk taking; practical experience in marketing, financial management, sales and customer service; attitudes and skills essential for personal success, whatever their chosen career paths are.

Where are you starting your business?

Contact these representatives according to where you live in Leeds Grenville:

Residents of Brockville, Gananoque, Leeds and the Thousand Islands, Front of Yonge, Athens, Frankville and south section of Elizabethtown-Kitley, Prescott, Augusta, Edwardsburgh Cardinal, North Grenville:

Email: [email protected]

Visit the Website

Residents of Merrickville-Wolford, Rideau Lakes, Westport and the upper part of Elizabethtown-Kitley.

Email: [email protected]

Visit the Website

Funding Opportunities

Digital Main Street Adds $10-million More in Grant Funding

Good news! The Digital Transformation Grant has added another 4,000 grants for eligible businesses across Ontario. Each grant can total up to $2,500.

The grant is a free business growth opportunity that assists owners with digital upgrades. Businesses who received the Digital Transformation Grant before June 21, 2022, may apply for additional funds provided all DTG final reports have been received and verified by OBIAA. Those who received a grant after June 21, 2022 (inclusive) may not re-apply at this time.

Join the hundreds of local owners who have taken advantage of this program. Many have used their grant money to boost revenue by upgrading their point-of-sale systems. Some have increased sales channels with the addition of an online shop and advertised through social media campaigns (all paid for by the grant!). Now is the time to follow through and start your application with the expert assistance of your Digital Service Specialist.

To explore further, call 613-342-3840 x 5368 or email Cyndy Bolton. Visit the Digital Services webpage or book a free consultation. Flexible time slots are available to serve you better.

Experience Ontario 2023 Program has Launched for Festivals and Events

This program is for festivals and events taking place between April 1, 2023, and March 31, 2024.

Festival and event organizers continue to adopt innovative approaches to delivering programming that attracts visitors, boosts local and regional economies and celebrates diverse cultures and identities across the province. This year, the Ontario government is investing $19.5 million in one-time funding through the Experience Ontario 2023 program to provide support to in-person festivals and events that will have an economic impact and generate increased tourism spending. Applications will be measured against program criteria and there is no guarantee of funding.

For information on the program, please see the Experience Ontario Application Guide.

For more information on how to apply visit the Available Funding Opportunities Ontario Government. Regional advisor Alain Girouard is available to assist with questions about the application process. He can be reached via email or by calling 613-246-1294.

The application period is now open until April 28, 2023, at 5 p.m. (EST).

Upcoming Event

Augusta Township Presents Economic Development Business Summit

The "Dream Big: Imagine Working Together" Economic Development Business Summit is an upcoming event for anyone maintaining, growing or starting a business in South Grenville.

The keynote speaker is Northern Cables Inc. CEO Shelley Bacon. Guest speakers include Kevin Spencer, President of KC Spencer & Associates Ltd.; Jeanette Johnston, Small Business Development Officer with the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville; Katie Nolan, Executive Director, and Darren Gallagher, Business Advisor, with Grenville Community Futures Development Corporation; Rob Whittaker, Chair of the Augusta Township Economic Development & Tourism Advisory Committee; and Justin St. Pierre, Business Development Officer with the Town of Prescott.

WHEN: Friday, May 12, 8:30-9:30 coffee and networking. The event runs until 2:30 p.m.

WHERE: Maitland Education & Recreation Centre (MERC) in Maitland

COST: Free. Open to South Grenville-based businesses.

Space is limited. Lunch will be provided. Please pre-register on the Township's website event webpage by Monday, May 8th.

Workshops, Seminars and Webinar Library

Growing Indigenous Food Tourism - Sessions 1 and 2

Indigenous food today is not subject to one definition, one set of ingredients, or one story. It is a dynamic movement towards revitalization that balances a wide variety of traditional pre-contact ingredients and practices with contemporary additions, interpretations, and innovations. What does Indigenous food mean to the mosaic of Indigenous individuals, their communities, and Ontario’s Indigenous tourism businesses?

In Session 2, connect with Indigenous chef, recipe developer and culinary consultant, Jenni Lessard, in this conversation that explores why growing Indigenous food tourism is valuable for a community and what it takes to grow Indigenous food tourism in a destination. These sessions are hosted by RTO9.

Session 1

WHEN: Wednesday, April 19, 10-11:30 a.m.

COST: Free

To register

Session 2

WHEN: Tuesday, April 25, 1:30-3 p.m.

COST: Free

To register

Video Storytelling

Learn the art of video storytelling in a hands-on workshop. Create compelling content and unleash your creativity using your own device. In this interactive and engaging workshop, participants will learn the techniques and tools needed to create compelling video content that will resonate with their audiences.

The workshop will cover the basics of storytelling, including:

  • the importance of identifying your target audience
  • creating a compelling narrative
  • and using visual storytelling techniques to capture your audience's attention.

Participants will also learn about the different types of video content and how to select the right format for their message. This session is hosted by Valley Heartland CFDC.

WHEN: Thursday, April 20, 8-10 a.m.

WHERE: 91 Cornelia Street West, Smiths Falls

COST: Free

Learn more or register

Social Media Content Planning Power Hour

Local digital marketing consultant Lyndsay Bigley leads this interactive webinar that will help you create a library of social media content ideas to appeal to your target customer and business goals, generate engagement on your profile, and build your online community.

Lyndsay Bigley is a creative and ambitious marketer with 12+ years experience in social media, graphic design, digital marketing and corporate communications. She is based in Brockville and has a passion for helping businesses succeed by finding their voice online.

WHEN: Thursday, April 20, 12-1 p.m. webinar

COST: Free

To register

Delivering Community-Based Experiences - Sessions 1 and 2

Join Aicha Smith-Belghaba to explore what it means to deliver experiences that are truly community-based and how doing so not only enriches the visitor's cultural experience but also ensures that the business is helping support the community to which it belongs. This workshop will dive into the meaning and importance of community-based experiences and the differences in this meaning through an Indigenous lens. Hosted by RTO9.

WHEN: Thursday, April 20, 10-11:30 a.m.

COST: Free

To register

WHEN: Thursday, April 27, 1:30-3 p.m.

COST: Free

To register

Ready, Set, Serve! Workshop

CSE Consulting is hosting Smart Serve Training, Ontario's approved responsible alcohol training program. It is approximately 5 hours of in-class training with an instructor/facilitator. They will guide you through the process of setting up an individual online account with Smart Serve Ontario and provide a token to access the final test online.

WHEN: Monday, April 24, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

WHERE: Locations in Prescott and Kemptville

COST: $44.95

To register, call 613-258-6576 or visit the website.

Providing Transformational Experiences - Sessions 1 and 2

Learn from Zach Keeshig as he shares how providing a meaningful and immersive Indigenous food tourism experience can create life-changing or enlightening moments for visitors that they will remember forever. Making a positive impact in this way can contribute to increased appreciation, support, and respect for Indigenous culture and peoples. In this workshop, we will learn how to move from ingredient-based to culturally-based food tourism while inviting guests into our communities through food and beverage. Hosted by RTO9.

Session 1

WHEN: Monday, April 24, 10-11:30 a.m.

COST: Free

To register

Session 2

WHEN: Monday, May 1, 1:30-2:30 p.m.

COST: Free

To register

Products & Pricing: Building Your Product Portfolio and Pricing Strategies

This webinar is hosted by Small Business Advisory Centre (Smiths Falls/Lanark County/North Leeds Grenville) with speaker Carey McMaster, of TRAICON. A product portfolio is the collection of all the products and services offered by a company. Analysis of the portfolio can provide insights into the sources of company sales and profits, and growth prospects. A business can use a variety of pricing strategies when selling a product or service. To determine the most effective pricing strategy a business needs to first identify the company’s pricing position, pricing segment, pricing capability and their competitive pricing reaction strategy.

This webinar includes a workbook, and will cover:

  • Product Portfolio Development; Pricing and Revenue Sources
  • Calculating Direct Costs, Costs of Good Sold, and Break-even Point
  • Determining Mark-up

WHEN: Thursday, April 27, 9-10:30 a.m. webinar

COST: Free

Learn more or register

How to Build a Strong Brand

Ryan Gencarelli from wild idea co. leads this online webinar on

How to Build a Strong Brand: Brand Strategy, Messaging, and Design for Entrepreneurs. Ryan is a seasoned marketing professional turned entrepreneur. He pivoted from the corporate world to co-found wild idea co. Offering tools, resources, and training, wild idea co. helps Canadian entrepreneurs take their business from wild idea to wild success. Ryan has advised and mentored hundreds of aspiring and seasoned entrepreneurs. He’s passionate about supporting the entrepreneurial community and your success as a small business owner. Ryan is a people person and advises on many areas of business development and specializes in marketing, branding, sales, project management, networking, and early-stage growth.

WHEN: Thursday, May 4, 12-1 p.m.

COST: Free

Learn more or register

Leeds Grenville eNews Deadlines for submitting information:

If you have an upcoming workshop, seminar, or business-related event, please email it to us in advance.

  • Submissions for the May 2nd edition should be received by Monday, April 24th.
  • Submissions for the May 16th edition should be received by Monday, May 8th.
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Ann Weir
Economic Development Manager
Deanna Clark
Economic Development Officer
Joanne Poll
Administration / Communications Support
Shelbi McFarlane
Business Development Officer

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613-342-3840 | 1-800-770-2170 | [email protected]