Red Deer North MLA Kim Schreiner announces the launch of a two-year business incubator program as Downtown Business Association executive director Amanda Gould looks on.

Central Alberta business incubator program launches

Office in Red Deer will help new businesses

A new initiative funded by the Alberta government will help new businesses and innovators in Central Alberta become successful.

The Downtown Business Association is the sponsor of the Catapult Entrepreneurs program, which is receiving $600,000 over two years from the Alberta Entrepreneurship Incubator Program through Alberta Economic Development and Trade.

Catapault Entrepreneurs is an incubator that will provide business mentorship opportunities, access to startup funding and product commercialization services at its downtown Red Deer location, as well as in Drayton Valley, Rocky Mountain House, Stettler, Ponoka and Olds.

Overall, there are 16 organizations that will start working now on the initiative, working with entrepreneurs in all walks of life, specifically targeting professionals who became unemployed and recent graduates, Red Deer North MLA Kim Schreiner said.

She said that since 2011, small businesses receiving support from Edmonton’s leading incubator have raised raised $350 million in financing and funding, invested $200 million in research and development and created $680 million in revenue. They also grew created jobs for 2,400 people.

Mayor Tara Veer said the incubator was long awaited, and when business thrives, Red Deer thrives.

Business startups can be quite risky and incubators help mitigate unnecessary risk, Veer said.

One of the new businesses that will benefit from Catapult Entrepreneurs is Promark Business Solutions, owned by Mark Cherkowski.

He said that he wants to expand his business and is excited about what Catapult has to offer, such as the professional coaching, training and guidance to help him move his business forward. His business offers website design, logo and graphic design, social media setup and search engine optimization.

Danielle Kloster, senior business development advisor for Catapult Entrepreneurs, said they have been working since April to roll out the program. The new office is located at 4610 49th Ave. in Red Deer. A grand opening and open house is Aug. 31 from 4 to 6 p.m.

The Alberta Entrepreneurship Incubator Program is a two-year $10-million fund, delivered through Alberta Innovates.

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