The city of Hamilton in Ontario may be nicknamed Steeltown for its massive metal production, but small businesses are just as valued – there’s support for those doing business in Hamilton.
Helping and encouraging immigrant entrepreneurs doing business in the community is the Small Business Enterprise Centre run by city hall. This centre offers resources to business owners to ensure they have the right support, research, plans and motivation to keep a thriving business. We learned from one new immigrant from Egypt who started his own business in Hamilton and utilized the help this centre provided.
Sarah V. Wayland:
Hamilton has a lot to offer and has a growing economy. It was ranked by the Conference Board of Canada as having the most diverse economy in Canada. No matter what your occupational specialty is, you should be able to find work in Hamilton. Based on our own outreach and based on the work that we see and the people that come in the small Business Enterprise Center in City Hall, immigrants own as wide a variety of businesses as the Canadian-born population, but we see concentrations in food service and restaurants. Professional services, such as accounting, driving schools, and small grocery stores are a big one. Beauty salons and barbershops. In many parts of the world, people who are starting a business, they just start a business. They just hang out a shingle, as we say, and their business is open. In Canada, business operations are highly regulated. And so here at City Hall in our Small Business Enterprise Center, in our one-stop shop, really have the expertise here to give them the advice about what steps they should take to make sure that they won’t do anything that might hurt them later in their business.
So the Hamilton Small Business Enterprise Center is part of a 57-office network across the province of Ontario. We at the Enterprise Center offer an array of services, including consultation, which is free time for entrepreneurs or investors or businesses to come in and sit down and talk with our consultants one-on-one to explore their business needs or ideas. Beyond that, we offer an array of workshops and seminars. We have in-house programs and incentives. In addition, we also have phone services where we can actually call into our language line, identify which language we are seeking, and actually have some interpretation services provided to ensure clear and transparent information is being put forth.
Aman el Duweini:
I’m very satisfied with the services that I received from Hamilton Small Business Enterprise Center. I had the idea of opening my own business, but it was not tread crystallize how I wanted to do it. I had attended an information session at the Small Business Enterprise Centre in Hamilton and it was only an introduction to what you should do if you want to open a business. And from there I started to contact the supervisors and advisors over there, and they enrolled me in a program called Launch Local. That program was very essential for me to understand how to take my idea to the execution level. My advice for anyone who wants to settle in Hamilton and open his own business, go and visit first The Small Business Centers, they have a lot of resources. They will give you a lot of material to read. They will guide you in writing your first business plan, which is a very important core of any business for success. So look into that. Go and visit, and talk to the advisors. They have good information and if they don’t have all the answers, they will refer you to some people that can answer your questions.
Very often we receive inquiries from people before they come to Hamilton before they come to Canada: ‘What should I do when I come to the community? I want to start a business. What are the resources available?’ And very often we encourage them to reach out via phone or via email, and we exchange a lot of dialogue, providing them with information and resources proactively so that they have an idea of what to understand when they come to Hamilton in terms of what business planning, what businesses, what sector, what information and resources they need to be aware of.
Also watch: Welcoming Hamilton’s newcomers!
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