SAULT STE. MARIE -- Despite the challenges brought on by the pandemic, a small business incubator in Sault Ste. Marie continues to help entrepreneurs start and expand their companies.

The “Starter Company Plus” program is offered through the Millworks Centre For Entrepreneurship in Sault Ste. Marie, and it’s aimed at non-students over the age of 18. The centre has helped more than 60 small businesses get off the ground.

“The training talks about different areas in starting your business,” says Brad Senecal, one of the coordinators at the Millworks.

“The start-up, like your licensing, to business planning, to market research, all those different areas.”

Senecal says once the training is finished, entrepreneurs have a chance at some funding to cover business expenses.

One of the 14 businesses the centre has assisted over the past year is Hogan’s Homestead, a local maple syrup producer.

“We were able to take what we’ve learned and the networks and the connections that we’ve made through the Millworks and bring our company from five taps to 30 thousand taps in under four years,” says CFO Erica Hogan. She says despite the tough times recently, Hogan’s Homestead is still in business.

“We’re in a seasonal business and Mother Nature is our business partner - she’s either good or bad,” says Hogan.

“But in all aspects of business, we’ve continued to survive, especially during these times.”

Small businesses ranging from paddle makers to law offices have taken part in the “Starter Company Plus” program.

Those interested in participating can reach out to the Millworks Centre for Entrepreneurship.