Georgian And The County Of Simcoe Launch Entrepreneurial Initiative For Newcomers

Cecilia Doucette, International and Newcomer Entrepreneurship Co-ordinator for Georgian College’s Henry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre (left) with Zahra Al-Harazi, an award-winning immigrant entrepreneur who gave the keynote address at the recent Xcelerate Summit. Georgian and the County of Simcoe launched a new series of workshops focused on guiding community newcomers throughout their entrepreneurial journey at the event.

Georgian College’s Henry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre (HBEC) and the County of Simcoe launched a new series of workshops and networking events focused on guiding community newcomers throughout their entrepreneurial journey.

The Start Now series, funded by the County of Simcoe, includes a collection of workshop and networking events on topics specific to business owners who are new to Canada. Some of the topics that will be addressed include business ideation – fostering innovation and resiliency, choosing the right business structure, legal and accounting frameworks, franchising, and English as a Second Language support. All the workshops will be recorded and distilled into smaller pieces available on Bernick Online which will also be a continued resource for newcomers.

“The County is the fortunate beneficiary of a wealth of skills, experience and cultural diversity brought to our communities by more than 82,000 immigrants who now call Simcoe County home,” said Warden George Cornell. “County Council is pleased to fund this initiative to help capitalize on the local entrepreneurial talent. Together with our partners, we are working to create, develop and promote the necessary tools to allow our new residents, businesses and communities to grow.”

The Start Now series is part of HBEC’s XcelerateNOW program – a new initiative focusing on supporting newcomers, immigrant and refugees with entrepreneurship support, mentorship, funding opportunities and resources.

Cecilia Doucette, the International and Newcomer Entrepreneurship Co-ordinator for HBEC is very excited about the new program and knows firsthand about the difficulties newcomers experience when they move to a new country. When shemoved to Canada more than a decade ago, she was faced with different challenges including a new job, culture, home and life.

“As newcomers we’re motivated, strong, brave and active, but we also have to remember that we don’t have to do this alone, as there is a whole community with resources available that will help you feel supported during this new beginning,” said Doucette. “This is why partnerships between thought leaders like HBEC and the County of Simcoe are important – not only to strengthen our community but to open doors to new opportunities for newcomers who are trying to build a new life.”

Doucette added that Simcoe County is a welcoming region with a rich business ecosystem and XcelerateNOW will help newcomers connect with their community and guide them through any challenges faced along their entrepreneurial journey.

In addition to providing information and support, the Start Now series will help newcomers transition smoothly to existing local programs such as DMZ Innisfil – one of Canada’s largest business incubators for emerging tech startups; HBEC’s Further Faster program, a seven-week training program that helps entrepreneurs develop their business whether they are just starting out or looking to grow an existing venture; the Job Finding Club for Immigrants and more.

XcelerateNOW was introduced at the Xcelerate Summit which took place recently. To find out more about the new program email

The County of Simcoe is composed of 16 member municipalities and provides crucial public services to County residents in addition to providing paramedic and social services to the separated cities of Barrie and Orillia. Visit our website at


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