New program for Haldimand & Norfolk aims to “Spark” innovative tourism ideas with grants and mentorships

A new program aimed at sparking and supporting innovative tourism ideas for Haldimand & Norfolk was officially announced today. The “Spark” Mentorships & Grants Program will match selected applicants from the region with a mentor and provide a $3,000 seed grant to help take their new tourism idea to the next level.

View the official announcement video here: https://youtu.be/WNSXZT1CMlE    

The “Spark” Program was first piloted in Windsor-Essex in 2018 by the Tourism Innovation Lab, and has now been delivered in over 16 regions across the province and British Columbia. Its goal is to find, foster and support new tourism ideas that will enhance current offerings, address gaps or challenges, motivate travel and longer stays, and increase year-round visits.

While there are no specific categories, program organizers are especially interested in new tourism ideas that connect with agritourism, cycling, waterfront, and the winter season.

Applications are encouraged from individuals, small businesses and non-profit organizations based in Haldimand & Norfolk from November 23rd to January 14th, 2022. Following a juried review process, five finalists from Haldimand County and five finalists from Norfolk County will be invited to virtual Pitch Sessions where three winners will be selected from each.

The Haldimand & Norfolk “Spark” Program is being led by the Tourism Innovation Lab in collaboration and with support from Southwest Ontario Tourism Corporation, Haldimand County, Norfolk County, Libro Credit Union, Grand Erie Business Centre and Venture Norfolk.

For more information on the Haldimand & Norfolk “Spark” Mentorships & Grants Program visit www.tourisminnovation.ca/HaldimandNorfolk.

QUOTES

Southwest Ontario Tourism Corporation
“Southwest Ontario Tourism Corporation is excited to be partnering on the expansion of “Spark” Program into Haldimand and Norfolk counties. We’ve seen some amazing ideas translate into new tourism experiences for travellers across Ontario’s Southwest, and we’re eager to see what new ideas emerge from Haldimand and Norfolk!” said Joanne Wolnik, Executive Director of the Southwest Ontario Tourism Corporation.

Haldimand County
“Our goal is to inspire Haldimand & Norfolk County residents and entrepreneurs to come forward with creative ideas that will generate new innovative tourism opportunities, experiences and partnerships in our communities.  We are excited to be working together along with our project partners to capture these great ideas, and define the actions needed to put these ideas to work.  Now more than ever, the tourism industry needs innovation and the “Spark” Program is a great opportunity to launch these tourism offerings and assist entrepreneurs in getting them to the next level” said Lidy Romanuk, Manager, Economic Development & Tourism, Haldimand County.

Norfolk County
Norfolk County is thrilled to be partnering with Haldimand County on this exciting Spark program, which will provide an opportunity for our many creative entrepreneurs to bring innovative tourism product ideas to market.  With the importance of tourism and entrepreneurship to our economy, we are delighted to be part of a project that both supports the creation and growth of small businesses, while simultaneously adding exciting new product offerings for our residents and visitors to enjoy when experiencing all that Norfolk County has to offer.  We are grateful to the Tourism Innovation Lab and wonderful sponsors (SWOTC, Libro Credit Union, Venture Norfolk, Grand Erie Business Centre) for helping to make this project a reality” said Zvi Lifshiz, Director, Strategic Innovation and Economic Development, Norfolk County.

Libro Credit Union
“At Libro Credit Union, we know that working together always makes people stronger, so we find partnerships like this so rewarding. The Spark program and everyone involved in it is a great example of partnership with people who share our values. At Libro, our financial coaches work with Owners – we call our customers Owners because they own part of the company – to set goals and work towards them, and there’s nothing we like more than an exciting idea like this!” said Scott Macleod, Regional Manager Haldimand & Norfolk, Libro Credit Union.

Grand Erie Business Centre
“The “Spark” Program has a history of success in helping to develop and foster new tourism businesses and entrepreneurs. We are happy to support this program and partner with everyone involved to encourage new tourism experiences to be developed and offered in our communities.” said Tauri Caputo, General Manager, Grand Erie Business Centre.

Tourism Innovation Lab
“We are very excited to be launching the “Spark” Program in Haldimand & Norfolk,” said Justin Lafontaine, Program Lead, Tourism Innovation Lab. “As we have seen through previous rounds in southwest Ontario, innovative tourism ideas brought forward by entrepreneurs, small businesses and organizations will inspire and elevate the tourism offerings and experiences in the region.”

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