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Haldimand entrepreneurs awarded grants and mentorships to help spark new tourism ideas

Haldimand County’s Economic Development and Tourism Division is pleased to announce that three Haldimand tourism businesses were awarded a seed grant and mentorship to help spark new tourism ideas in Haldimand County.

The county’s “Spark” Mentorships & Grants Program is a partnership initiative between the Tourism Innovation Lab, Southwest Ontario Tourism Corporation, Haldimand County Tourism, Libro Credit Union, and the Grand Erie Business Centre. The program’s goal is to find, foster, and support new tourism ideas, experiences, and partnerships that will enhance current offerings, address gaps or challenges, motivate travel and longer stays, and increase year-round visits in the region.

Eleven Haldimand applications were received, with the top five selected to present their new tourism ideas at a virtual pitch session held on December 12th. A panel of partner representatives and a tourism innovator from outside the region selected the three winning applicants.

Each winner will be awarded a $3,000 seed grant and 3-month mentorship to help them get started with their new tourism ideas.

The 2023 Haldimand County “Spark” Program 2.0 winners are:

  • Jessica Lymburner & Blain Albin, Caledonia Chamber of Commerce (Enhancing Waterfront Experiences in Caledonia)
  • Natalie Strouth & Jan Vilaca, Door 25 (Taste like a Local, Door 25 Road Trip Getaway)
  • Justin Awde, Awdshire Village Resort (Awdshire Village Resort)

Haldimand Economic Development & Tourism along with Southwest Ontario Tourism Corporation will be actively reaching out to work with all eleven program applicants to assist each of them in developing their business concepts further and bringing their ideas to reality.


“The ‘Spark’ Program reflects our commitment to nurturing innovation and fostering growth within our tourism sector. These innovative ideas showcase the creativity and potential that exist within Haldimand County, enriching visitor experiences and supporting our local economy.” – Lidy Romanuk, Manager of Haldimand County Economic Development and Tourism.

“We’re delighted to witness the innovative concepts brought forth by Haldimand’s entrepreneurs through the ‘Spark’ Program. These initiatives exemplify the spirit of creativity and collaboration, aligning with our mission to drive forward-thinking tourism experiences in the region.” – Justin Lafontaine, Program Lead for the Tourism Innovation Lab.

“Supporting initiatives like those recognized by the ‘Spark’ Program is pivotal in showcasing the diverse and enticing offerings of Ontario’s Southwest. These projects underscore the region’s commitment to fostering unique, immersive visitor experiences that contribute to the vibrancy and allure of Haldimand County as a tourism destination.” – Joanne Wolnik, Executive Director for Ontario’s Southwest.