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Economic Development eNews | February 11, 2020
Business Profile
Top feature photo: The Blanchard's Garage team, from left to right, Dave and Kevin Blanchard, auto technicians Peter Edwards, Daryl Sands and Brittany Kearney, Brian Harper, Steve Blanchard and Tina Lepage.
Above photos from the top: Daryl Sands in the garage, administrator Tina Lepage and Steve at the front desk and Brian Harper at the pumps.
Blanchard's Garage in Athens known for treating people right
ATHENS - Blanchard's Garage is a fourth-generation family business famous for its customer service and dedication to community.

"We're an old-fashioned garage where we like to treat people like family, not a number," says Steve Blanchard, who is the front-line face of the business today. "We have loyal clients and staff going back generations."

The business celebrated its 70th anniversary last June and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Blanchard's recently installed all new gas pumps to better serve its strong Athens-area customer base. When temporarily closed for the upgrade, people really missed the service and could hardly wait for it to re-open.

"We heard from a lot of people that they missed us," says Steve.

Steve's father Dave, now 75, is still very involved in daily operations. He opens up 7 days a week and gets the gas pumps going. With more than 50 years in the business, he continues to enjoy providing services he feels are important to his neighbours.

"Things have changed drastically over the years but we remember what's worked well for our customers in the past. We even go and pick up cars for our customers. We do the best we can - I guess that's why we're still around," says Dave.

It was June 1949 when Dave's father, George, purchased the property at the corner of County Road 42 and County Road 5 in Athens to open Blanchard's Garage. Dave's grandfather had previously run a garage on Perth Street in Brockville.

Today Blanchard's continues to offer full auto repair services with three service bays and licenced technicians. Full service gas is also offered at the Gulf pumps out front. They sell auto and convenience products as well. The business has 7 full-time and 6 part-time employees.

Steve and Dave credit their entire team with their continued high service reviews, including a 4.8 out of 5 Google rating. Their theory is people come back to a place where they appreciate and trust the service. Positive personalities working on the front line are also very important, according to Steve and Dave. They are proud to say their business is a bit of a meeting place for locals.

Blanchard's has also provided part-time jobs for hundreds of students, says Steve. His kids, Cody and Ashley, are among them.

"They go above and beyond for everyone," adds Mayor Herb Scott, citing Blanchard's contributions to both community events and youth employment. "I have talked to many students. They cherish the time they spent at Blanchard's and are better for it," says the Mayor.

"We do feel strongly about providing services and convenience to our customers and our community," says Steve.

Blanchard's Garage and Service Centre is located at 51 Main Street East, Athens. Give them a call at 613-924-2100 or email Steve .
Funding Opportunities
Women's Entrepreneurship Program launches

Are you a woman looking to start your own business? Have you recently started one but are struggling with how to make it successful? The new Women's Entrepreneurship Program will help, support and guide you in your venture.
The initiative will be offered locally through the Leeds Grenville Small Business Enterprise Centre, in partnership with the Ontario East Economic Development Commission and four other Small Business Centres across Eastern Ontario.The program will focus on, but will not be limited to, Indigenous women, women in rural regions and recent immigrants wishing to start a business.

In Leeds Grenville, there are 40 seats available over 3 years.

The 3-month program will give you:
  • Online Business Plan Bootcamp - Create a business plan independently using a structured, proven process
  • Business Basics
  • Leadership Skills - Learn time management, goal setting, customer service and team building
  • Social Media Training - Learn the importance of social media for your business and how to do it effectively
  • Accountability and Mentorship

Participants may also be eligible for small loans from the 1000 Islands Community Development Corporation and the Grenville Community Futures Development Corporation. 
Learn more detailed information about the program and how to apply by visiting the LGSBEC website or email Caroline Hardy.
Ontario Human Capital Research and Innovation Fund

The Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development is seeking proposals for the 2019/20 Ontario Human Capital Research and Innovation Fund (OHCRIF). It supports research and innovation activities, through a Transfer Payment Agreement to identify better ways to help people prepare for, return to or keep employment and become productive participants of the labour force.

The Ministry is interested in proposals that respond to one of the following research themes:
  • Overcoming barriers to support successful participation in the labour market for Ontario's current and future workforce
  • Supporting employer participation in workforce development strategies / programs and their role in building the workforce they need to grow their business

The following organizations can submit proposals:
  • Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology
  • Employers, industry associations, unions, and workforce development partners
  • First Nations governments
  • Indigenous Institutes
  • Not-for-profit organizations
  • Ontario publicly-assisted universities
  • Ontario school boards
  • Private career colleges

Learn more on the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities OHCRIF webpage
Email OHCRIF to submit your application

Deadline: Monday, February 17 by 11:59 p.m. Successful applicants will be notified in March 2020.
Business Awards
Nominate top businesses in North Grenville

The Municipality of North Grenville and the Chamber of Commerce are looking for nominations for this year's business awards. North Grenville residents and business leaders are invited to nominate a business or community leader by March 15, 2020.
Categories include:
  • Harry Pratt Ambassador of the Year
  • New Business of the Year
  • Young Entrepreneur of the Year
  • Female Entrepreneur of the Year
  • Male Entrepreneur of the Year
  • Community Appreciation Award
  • Innovative Business of the Year

To learn more or to submit a nomination see the award webpage. The awards will be announced at the third annual North Grenville Business Breakfast on Friday, May 1. Tickets are $32.84. Purchase tickets.
Business Retention + Expansion
Attention South Grenville leaders interested in workforce development

Are you a leader or business person interested in developing the South Grenville workforce? If so, plan to attend this information sharing session covering the Business Retention + Expansion Findings on Workforce and the Leeds Grenville Counties Economic Development Strategic Areas of Focus. It will help you better understand the programs and services that are available.

WHEN: Friday, February 21, 8:30 a.m. Refreshments & networking; 9 -11:30 a.m.
WHERE: MERC Hall, 120 E McLean Boulevard, Maitland

There will be a variety of presenters, including employment experts who will speak on programs, funding and services to assist business owners. It is being facilitated by the Township of Augusta Economic Development Committee.

Email Annette or call 613-925-4231, ext. 105, to reserve your spot.
The Rideau Lakes Business Network this month will include a round-table discussion with participants on what subjects they would like to discuss at future meetings. Suggestions include the Township's new branding and the Business Recognition Awards.

WHEN: Today - Tuesday, February 11, 7 p.m.
WHERE: Portland Community Hall
COST: Free

Email organizers for more information
PARO Centre for Women's Enterprise hosting Women's Networking Event

Meet women entrepreneurs at all stages of business. Learn about PARO Peer Lending Circles, access to mirco financing and free one-on-one counselling, all in a friendly, local women's networking environment. PARO Centre for Women's Enterprise is a charitable organization helping women start and grow business.

WHEN: Wednesday, February 19, 9 - 11 a.m.
WHERE: Little Sisterz Restaurant, 14 Spencer Street, Spencerville
COST: Free, continental breakfast options are available for $10, including regular coffee/tea

Local partners include Grenville and 1000 Islands Community Development Corporations, the Leeds Grenville Small Business Enterprise Centre.

Seating is limited. Reserve a seat.
RTO 9 Attracting Francophone
& Bilingual Tourists

Cultural tourism is experiencing impressive growth and has evolved towards the intangible elements of culture as authentic experiences where interaction with the locals becomes the main reason for travel.

This session will present how innovative and inspiring practices showcasing French culture and heritage can support value-added development and partnership strategies for both the industry and the local destinations.

WHEN: Thursday, February 20, 9 a.m. to 12 noon
WHERE: Aquatarium, 6 Broad Street, Brockville
COST: Free

Content Creation for Social Media: Morning Workshop Series

Accelerate your business with this session presented by Jennifer Baker Social Media Consulting Ltd. Participants will be introduced to the various types and forms of content for Facebook and Instagram. Topics will include the importance of images and photography, creating graphics and videos, as well as writing blogs. Content creation is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience. It is hosted by the Brockville and District Chamber of Commerce and the Leeds Grenville Small Business Enterprise Centre.

WHEN: Friday, March 6, 8:30-11 a.m.
WHERE: Brockville Public Library, 23 Buell Street, Brockville
COST: $35. Advanced payment required.

Lunch and Learn Series: Succession Planning

Heather and Danielle, of Knowledge that Empowers Your Success, will help businesses better understand and navigate challenges they'll face now and in the future. If you are working your business as if you will be around forever, this seminar is for you.

WHEN: Monday, March 9, 12-1 p.m.
WHERE: Brockville Public Library, 5 Henry Street, Brockville
COST: $10. Snacks and light beverages are provided. You are able to bring your own lunch.

Email Melissa Boulton or call 613-345-3269, ext. 102.
Learn more about these events on our Workshops and Seminars page.
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 February 25th edition should be received by Tuesday, February 18.
  • Submissions for the March 10th edition should be received by Monday, March 2
United Counties of Leeds and Grenville Economic Development Office
32 Wall Street, Suite 300, Brockville, ON K6V 4R9
613-342-3840 | 1-800-770-2170 |  econdev@uclg.on.ca