The Business Ombudsman Initiative

By Marion Fantetti

Some exciting news!  Today, Sandra Pupatello, CEO of the WindsorEssex Economic Development Corp. announced a new initiative of direct outreach to businesses – the Business Ombudsman.

I’m Marion Fantetti and I’m excited to take on this role as the Business Ombudsman and for what it means for our business community – a direct point of contact to help them get through hurdles that may be impacting their business , and where they need answers quickly.  For example, when there are issues relative to government that our business people can’t resolve – we step in.  It’s also part of a differentiator in being able to promote our business-friendly environment to local businesses as well as to investors.

I have a great team of CAOs from the City of Windsor and the County of Essex – essentially the most senior official of every town in our region, along with representatives from our local Federal and Provincial MP and MPP offices. They are the conduits into their administration where some resolution may be required to assist our local businesses.

What does this mean?

Everyone recognizes the importance of assisting our existing businesses, any new ones, and of course, any perspective investors. This ‘team’ approach will demonstrate that we are business-friendly and outreaching to business to help them grow and be satisfied.

I’ll be reaching out to the business community with more information on this new initiative as we move forward.

For businesses, I think they will find that there is whole body of resources out there for them and my job is to make sure they get to those resources, and that they get answers quickly.  Why?  Because we want them to be in a position to grow and do well.  We want businesses in our region to do well and we are taking specific measures to help them and help them find answers.  Those answers may not always be “yes” or “no” but businesses need to know that we are going through all the proper channels and work through how public policy, government regulations and legislation affect Windsor-Essex County businesses; “stick handling” through the processes.

This role is really important to economic development – think of it as a canary in the coal mine – you get to see the issues before they are really big and unmanageable – you get to see the trends that are happening in the industries so that we get ahead of them before they get too bad.

If there are issues or policies impacting the growth of our businesses, we will know about it and we’ll let the key decision makers know about it, proactively, ahead of time.

Watch for my blog where I will be sharing key information on rising issues, trends and good news stories about business in our region. In this blog, I’ll have the opportunity to share information on common business issues and celebrating successes. I also look forward to sharing some great things happening in our business-friendly environment…so please stay tuned – I’ll be looking forward to hearing from you too!

To get in touch with me either give me a call at 519-255-9200 x2222 or send me an email at mfantetti@investwindsoressex.com

This is all part of a plan to promote the Windsor-Essex region as the most business friendly environment, anywhere! 

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Marion Fantetti, Business Ombudsman

Marion Fantetti is the Business Ombudsman for the WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation

Entrepreneurship: Opportunities in a Tough Student Summer Job Market

By Sabrina DeMarco

Stevan Ljuljdurovic was a second year Computer Science student at the University of Windsor when he began his journey as a successful entrepreneur. When Ljuljdurovic first started his studies, he had no idea where it would lead him, but inspired by an opportunity to develop new technology and assisted by an award from the Summer Company program in 2008, he began offering custom software and web solutions to clients. Today, Ljuljdurovic operates a growing software engineering firm called Navetz, using the skills he learned while still a university student.

Ljuljdurovic is just one of many students who discover the rewards of entrepreneurship during their university years. If you’re a college or university student currently looking for a good summer job, you don’t need me to tell you that it’s tough out there. Finding summer employment is a challenge for many students during the best of times, but mix in today’s challenging economy, and job opportunities are even slimmer than usual as underemployed and unemployed adults vie with students for plum seasonal jobs.

Entrepreneurship is a great option for enterprising young people. Starting your own business can be a lot more fun and rewarding than slugging it out in a minimum wage job; you’ll make some money and enjoy the satisfaction of being your own boss while developing critical business skills.

Whatever your talents, experience, age or funds available, you can be your own boss—all you really need is a good idea and willingness to take the time to develop it. Services might include dog walking, gardening, painting, personal training or tutoring. Or, if you’re creative and you knit, sew, make jewellery, do graphic design or make art, you may have a product you can sell.

Check out more inspiring ideas from real student business startups here.

Typically, the hardest part of starting up your own business is getting started, so here are a couple of tips to get your inner budding entrepreneur on your way.

First, consider whether you want to start a seasonal business that you can pack up and close down at the end of the summer, or whether you want to build a business that will allow you to continue running (on a reduced scale) throughout the year. You’d be amazed by the number of students who operate their own part-time businesses while they’re in school. Options to consider include:

  • Providing a service: Make sure it interests you and that it takes advantage of your unique skills and experience.
  • Selling a product: Options are endless from cyber-stores to mall kiosks and vending carts or stalls at local fairs. Purchase clothing, fashion accessories or novelty items in bulk at wholesale prices and resell them for a profit.
  • Manufacture and sell simple products: Sell either directly to consumers at retail prices or in bulk to other businesses – retailers, exporters, wholesalers or distributors. Literally hundreds of products can easily be made from home, and with minimal training you can quickly learn how to sell at a profit.

Don’t forget that parents, teachers, and other adult mentors can provide invaluable guidance.

Take advantage of the resources and opportunities provided through your school, the Ontario government and the WindsorEssex Small Business Centre. The centre offers a variety of resources and programs to promote entrepreneurship as a viable career option and is committed to supporting the entrepreneurial spirit and skills of students and young adults through initiatives such as Summer Company and the Canadian Youth Business Foundation.

Apply to get your business going through Summer Company, an Ontario government program for full-time students aged 15-29. It provides hands-on business training and mentoring from local business advisors, and awards of up to $3,000 to help students start their own summer business.

Applying for Summer Company is a competitive process. Space is limited and the program reaches capacity quickly so apply early! Deadline is May 7, 2012.

Learn more about Summer Company and find lots of resources for young entrepreneurs by visiting www.windsoressexsmallbusiness.com.


Sabrina Demarco, Director of the Small Business Centre for the WindsorEssex Economic Development CorporationSabrina DeMarco is the Director of the Small Business Centre for the Windsor-Essex Economic Development Corporation.