All Businesses Welcome
Many large, international companies have reaped the benefits of operating in our region. We have a large workforce experienced in manufacturing and exceptional transportation links to both Canadian and American markets. St. Thomas-Elgin is an attractive location to start new ventures and expand operations.
Additionally, small and family-owned businesses are valued additions to the St. Thomas-Elgin business community. Small and family-owned businesses provide unique products and services to our communities, nearby cities, across Canada and the world.
Large or small, we value the contributions of all businesses and business owners in our community.
How We Help
If you are interested in starting or growing your business in St. Thomas-Elgin, there are several organizations that can help you learn about the area and develop a business plan at no cost to you. You can work one-on-one with an advisor or a team of advisors to develop your idea into a reality. Additionally, many people do not know that St. Thomas-Elgin offers unique business grants that are not available to entrepreneurs in large cities.
Inquiries about new business developments or ideas can be sent directly to any of the local economic development offices or business service organizations listed below. The individuals in these organizations have years of experience helping newcomers establish successful businesses ranging from sole proprietorships to large corporations.
Economic Development Corporations
There are two economic development corporations in St. Thomas-Elgin that can help you choose how and where to locate your business strategically.
- Elgin County Economic Development promotes the opportunities and benefits of investing and doing business across Elgin County, and
- St. Thomas Economic Development strives to enhance the quality of life for all citizens of St. Thomas by attracting, retaining and growing our industrial and commercial sectors which will result in increased employment opportunities and assessment.
Contacting the appropriate economic development corporation directly is a great place to start if you are considering a business venture in either Elgin County or St. Thomas. Experienced and friendly economic development staff members provide information about existing properties and businesses for sale, labour market and workforce information, and relevant policies related to your business idea, all at no cost to you. In fact, members of each organization were involved in developing this website and are always happy to hear from newcomers with business ideas and dreams.
Business Planning & Development
In addition to the economic development corporations, St. Thomas-Elgin also has several local business support organizations that provide free assistance to anyone considering a business in the area, including potential newcomers who do not yet live in the area.
- Elgin Business Resource Centre (EBRC) provides free support at all stages of the business planning process, including market research, business plan writing, and financing. Incubator space is also available for rent. Three offices are located in St. Thomas, Aylmer (East Elgin), and Dutton (West Elgin).
- Small Business Enterprise Centre (SBEC) provides free support to anyone interested in starting a small business in St. Thomas or Elgin County. SBEC runs business workshops and bootcamps during the year and can work with entrepreneurs one-on-one to develop a business plan. The office is located in St. Thomas.
- St. Thomas Chamber of Commerce is a non-profit organization that supports and connects business owners across St. Thomas-Elgin. The network includes over 600 businesses and 1200 individual members from the central Elgin County area. Monthly networking events and a business directory help members meet and connect throughout the year.
Many newcomers to the St. Thomas-Elgin area have accessed and benefitted from the business services available in our area, including Gabriel and Doris Chordekar.
Unique Funding Opportunities
We value all types of economic development and offer grants and low-interest loan programs to help new businesses get started. Some programs are offered across the province while others are unique to Ontario's rural areas and St. Thomas-Elgin.
- Loans and micro-loans up to $250 000 are available for new or existing businesses in Elgin County through Elgin Business Resource Centre, including to newcomers with limited Canadian credit history,
- Elgincentives grants up to $15 000 are available to assist with improvements to commercial or agricultural businesses,
- Enterprise Elgin Business Development Plan Competition awards over $8 000 in cash and in-kind support to a new business venture each year, and
- Several Ontario grant programs administered by the Small Business Enterprise Centre.
Other programs may also be available depending on your product, service or sector. Contact any of the organizations mentioned above for more information about starting, moving or financing a business in St. Thomas-Elgin.