When owners are looking to sell their businesses, confidentiality is often key.
If word gets out ahead of time, staff might leave and other problems could arise.
Realizing these risks, the County of Simcoe has made a commitment to keep funding a pilot project that helps business owners with that transition and succession process.
During an event Thursday at Casino Rama, hosted by Orillia’s Community Development Corporation (CDC), Simcoe County Deputy Warden Terry Dowdall confirmed another $100,000 will be put toward the In-Market Special Project Fund in 2019. Of that, $50,280 will go toward the Business Transition Matching Program – the same amount that was offered this year.
“I wish this program was available to me in 2015,” said Dowdall, who was running a store before becoming deputy warden.
With the local CDC signing up 15 to 20 buyers and sellers each month, the funding “will be incredibly useful,” said its general manager, Wendy Timpano.
“We often have business (owners) come in who say they need to start planning to sell, but confidentiality is very important,” she said. “This program allows them the opportunity to be anonymous.”
Business owners can connect with potential successors through an online portal.
“It’s an amazing opportunity for both buyers and sellers to connect online. It makes the process much more seamless,” Timpano said.
Next year is the third for the pilot program, and Timpano has seen its success so far.
“We’ve had several businesses come in to access the program who may not have reached out before,” she said. “We don’t want to see businesses close.”
It was important for the county to find a way to improve the succession process, since 40 per cent of businesses in Canada will be transitioning over the next five years.
“Because the county sees this as such an important program, we have pre-committed the same amount of funding to 2019 for the CDC and Nottawasaga Futures Development Corporation,” said Rachel Sullivan, the county’s manager of economic development. “We saw the significance of this.”
The Orillia CDC is lumped in with the southern Ontario region, and it is the first in that region to have the transition program.
Timpano thanked the county and other partners for making it a reality.
“It’s amazing to have their support and their foresight to see the value of this program,” she said.
Applications to qualify for the In-Market program in 2019 must be received by Jan. 25. Submission guidelines can be found on the county’s economic development site.
More information about the Business Transition Matching Program can be found here.