Crupi creates growth catalyst at biz incubator: Augesco business centre designed to foster small businesses, helping them help each other off the ground.Thunder Bay Thunder Bay, city (1991 pop. 113,946), SW Ont., Canada, on Thunder Bay inlet of Lake Superior. The city was created in 1970 by the amalgamation of the twin cities of Fort William and Port Arthur and two adjoining townships. -- After being involved in First Nations economic development for six years, Thunder Bay businessman Franco Crupi is nurturing a small cluster of northwestern entrepreneurs at his incubation centre.
Since the opening last year, 11 companies have moved into the space, tapping in to expertise and technology at Augesco, a facility that provides young firms with the help they need to grow during their start-up years. Under the auspice aus·pice
n. pl. aus·pi·ces
1. also auspices Protection or support; patronage.
2. A sign indicative of future prospects; an omen: Auspices for the venture seemed favorable. of Crupi Consulting, fibre-optics, graphics, public relations public relations, activities and policies used to create public interest in a person, idea, product, institution, or business establishment. By its nature, public relations is devoted to serving particular interests by presenting them to the public in the most , consulting, land resource management, insurance and advertising consultants are able to brainstorm with seasoned business people, while establishing connections with aspiring entreprenuers.
The aim is to produce healthy firms that will strengthen the northwestern Ontario Northwestern Ontario is the region within the Canadian province of Ontario which lies north and west of Lake Superior, and west of Hudson Bay and James Bay. It includes most of subarctic Ontario. economy.
Crupi has noticed owners who are in the office weekly, trouble-shooting with staff members see their enterprises expand quicker.
In a public incubation centre it is difficult to be flexible, however, in a for-profit business Crupi can participate with new business owners discussing their needs and how the centre can provide a healthy environment for growth.
"If they need to be here for six months we don't put them down for a two year lease agreement," Crupi says.
The average tenant pays $1.50 per square foot, buying them access to the boardroom and office machines.
Firedog Public Relations & Marketing is a successful example of a business that made good use of office space from Augesco. Originally, it started off in the centre until owner Stephanie Ash created a larger market base pushing through Thunder Bay to the rest of northwestern Ontario.
Often entrepreneurs are not able to sink into the business pulse of the economy right away. Finding financial support can at times be challenging, Crupi says. However, through his business connections new owners can link up with angel investors An individual who invests his or her own money in a private company, which is typically a startup. An angel investor is not an employee or member of a bank, venture capital firm or other financial institution that normally makes such investments. who are always interested in potential opportunities.
"What we do is match potential businesses with people who are willing to invest."
Within the incubation facility there is a $60,000 boardroom equipped with state-of theart technology and mahogany mahogany, common name for the Meliaceae, a widely distributed family of chiefly tropical shrubs and trees, often having scented wood. The valuable hardwood called mahogany is obtained from many members of the family; in America and Europe it is imported for furnishings furnishings
the extra type or quantity of hair on the head, tail, ears or legs, specified for a particular breed. For example, the feathers in setters, the beard in Bearded collies, the eyebrows in Schnauzers. . Scotia partially sponsored the room, knowing that in order to be a "successful part of the economy" entrepreneurs had to have space to create or close business deals, Crupi says.
"The skills are under-utilized (here in Thunder Bay)," Crupi says. And it is not because northwestern businesses do not have a public business face, he says. Rather, they do not market themselves enough and as a result companies from the outside will become successful proponents of northwestern projects.
"We could be doing our own work at home. Solutions for the North have to come from the North, because we live that reality."
Although he has been open for a year, Crupi is starting to see synergies happening between the tenants.
Synergy kicks in as tenants feed off each other to move a project forward.
Located in downtown Port Arthur Port Arthur, city, Canada
Port Arthur: see Thunder Bay, Ont., Canada.
Port Arthur, city, China
Port Arthur: see Lüshun, China. on Red River Road, the office facility can accommodate another eight businesses with more room as the need arises.
By KELLY LOUISEIZE
Northern Ontario Business Northern Ontario Business is a Canadian magazine, which publishes monthly in Greater Sudbury, Ontario. The magazine covers business news and issues in Northern Ontario.