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Indigenous small businesses get ready to go to the next level with Barrie’s smOffice contest

BARRIE, ON (June 6, 2018) – The 4th season of Barrie’s smOffice contest kicks off this Friday June 6 10am -11am with a Ribbon Cutting to announce the 2018 small business contest winners. This year had a unique focus which will help take small business ideas of three Indigenous community members to the next level. The three winners will receive free downtown office and meeting space for six months, professional services, invaluable mentorship sessions from top Simcoe entrepreneurs, $1,000 each in seed funding – and more, all to fuel their small business dream.

Winners Meagan Lortie and Caycee Masters of Journey into Truth workshops are most looking forward to the networking potential of being part of The Creative Space in downtown Barrie for the next 6 months: “ I’m excited to be with other startups so we can be supportive of each other and work off one another’s energy. Being around people who love what they do and who are passionate about it is so motivating,” said Lortie.

The artist behind White Bear Art, Clayton King, has been building bridges to understanding First Nations culture, spirituality, and history for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people alike, and after a few years with his art on the back-burner, he now wants to pursue being a full-time professional artist. “smOffice allows me to focus on the goals I need to have to move forward,” said King. “With the help of the mentors I’ll be able to pursue these avenues. It’s going to be good to get help from the mentors and from the previous winners.”

Shannon Frunza  is launching The Paperwork Agency, providing administrative services to artists of all disciplines so that they can have more time for art, thus boosting local arts communities and stimulating the economy. “I’m looking forward to being able to have a solid workday,” said Frunza . “My current workspace is small and not motivating. I’m excited to be in the collaborative environment of The Creative Space.”

Last year’s smOffice winner, Charles Catchpole, member of Couchiching First Nation, and his wife Germaine are co-leading this year’s program. “smOffice offers a great program that gives startups the support they need to get their business off to a running start. Our foodservice product is launching into retail soon and it wouldn’t have come to fruition without smOffice and the possibility of dreaming bigger. So I say ‘meegwetch’ for that.”

“Having served and supported First Nations community over the years, I’ve always longed for ways to see our FNMI communities thrive as opposed to just survive,” said Chad Ballantyne, creator of smOffice contest. “smOffice is perfectly structured for breaking down barriers and collaborating on dreams for any culture.”

For more information:  or follow @smoffice_barrie

Media contact: Allie Spencer 1-888-527-0074 ext.4 or

smOffice contact: Chad Ballantyne 705.812.0689