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Congratulations to the successful 2020 Summer Company students

CEDC congratulates the five students who took part in the 2020 Summer Company program.
Keramiikka Maan
Erika Niva, owner of Keramikka Maan. (Supplied photo)


THUNDER BAY - The Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission (CEDC) would like to congratulate the successful Summer Company students who started and managed their own small business this past summer. The Summer Company program is administered by the Thunder Bay and District Entrepreneur Centre and has seen eighty students go through the program since 2014. In the face of the pandemic, the 2020 program saw five students successfully complete the program. Like many programs, Summer Company went virtual, students attended all workshop online and learnt how to adapt and navigate the changing health and safety requirements.

“Like many other organizations, the CEDC had to pivot our approach when administering our programs,” says Eric Zakrewski, CEO, Thunder Bay CEDC. “Being able to successfully run the program ensured five young entrepreneurs were able to generate an income to support themselves despite the pandemic. Supporting the next generation of local entrepreneurs is crucial to ensuring our small business community continues to grow and flourish.”

The Summer Company program kicked off at the beginning of June with the students receiving a $1,500 grant to cover start-up costs for their new summer business. Throughout the summer, participants worked with a local mentor and attended workshops based on customer service, marketing, bookkeeping, and insurance. Once all of the program requirements were met, the participants were given another $1,500 grant to help with any incurred costs associated with their business. 

“This year, with the help of the CEDC, I was able to make my art into a legitimate business and bring fine art into the lives of the people around me,” Says Erika Niva, owner of Keramikka Maan. “With the CEDC’s support it was possible for me to get my kiln wired and be able to make pottery from my home. With the experience I’ve gathered this year I now feel prepared to continue my business after graduating LU next spring.”

The participating students are as follows:

Alexis Augustine, Owner, Augustine’s Beaded Designs
Erika Niva, Owner, Keramiikka Maan Pottery of the Earth
Joe Newhouse, Owner, Mariday Mowers Lawn Care Company
Jase Marusyk, Owner, Maryusyks Mowers & Pressure Washing
Imran Bagha, Owner, Northern Writing Consultants
Four students operated their business in Thunder Bay and one student operated in the Atikokan district.

“It is great to see young entrepreneurs launch and navigate running their own business,” says Kirsten Kabernick, Program Coordinator, Thunder Bay CEDC. “This program provides students with the opportunity to be their own boss while having support and access to resources when needed.”