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ONTARIO@WORK

VBEC means business

By Lauren Breslin
Special to The Sun


That old saying, "knowledge is power," rings true now more than ever. In the world of business, especially, nothing is more valuable than solid information. While instinct plays a big part in the process of decision-making, good executives know that knowledge -- in the form of research, analysis and strategy -- is an indispensable resource.
Frank Miele, commissioner of economic and technology development in the City of Vaughan takes a dip in the chocolate fountain created by Chocolate Temptations.


Resource centre

In the City of Vaughan, entrepreneurs have another indispensable resource in the battle of business. The Vaughan Business Enterprise Centre (VBEC), headquartered in a quaint, historic building at Major Mackenzie and Keele, opened its doors in 2001 to help local entrepreneurs discover the secrets of corporate success. It has since expanded into an all-in-one resource centre offering early-stage growth support for small businesses.

"Small businesses make up 90% of Ontario's businesses," says Frank Miele, commissioner of economic and technology development in the City of Vaughan.

"The value added that VBEC has given our citizens and businesses is enormous."

VBEC, a non-profit government agency, leverages funding from the City of Vaughan and the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Trade to expand and diversify the local economy through business attraction and retention.

"We're focused more on retention than attraction," Miele says. "I have a motto: Industries go where they are invited; they expand and stay where they are well-treated."

And "well-treated" they are. Whether you're looking for business plan assistance, marketing strategy advice or cost analyses, look no further than VBEC -- they've got it all -- not to mention training seminars and workshops held throughout the year.

Register in minutes

"VBEC has a great knowledge database on all the elements of starting a small business in a one-stop shop," says Miele. "You can register your business -- literally -- in minutes."
The Vaughan Business Enterprise Centre is headquartered in a quaint, historic building at Major Mackenzie and Keele.


It's true. Fifteen minutes is all it takes for VBEC to register your business and issue you a business license. An average of 115 businesses are registered or renewed through VBEC every month.

Since opening in 2001, VBEC has counselled over 10,000 clients. "There was one business in particular, it was a chocolate fountain business," recalls Miele. "They came in with this idea, and now they're a regular at all the parties and functions I go to. It's terrific."

The business he's referring to -- called Chocolate Temptations -- thinks it's pretty terrific, too. Adam Serfilippi approached VBEC back in 2003 with the idea for a choc-olate fountain rental business that would service weddings and other functions.

The business has since grown beyond his imagination, and Serfilippi says he owes much of his success to the help he received from VBEC.

"Their experience, their contacts, their connections," says Serfilippi, "those were the big ones. They give you some great details on starting your business, on your name selection, things like that. They also give you finance options for your business. They're very helpful, and they offer some really great tools."

The City of Vaughan is widely recognized as a pro-business environment, offering the lowest industrial / commercial property taxes in the GTA. But Vaughan is still evolving, with new initiatives planned for the years ahead.

"We want to have a greater educational component to our existing businesses," says Miele. "Those in their third and fourth year of business particularly need guidance. So we're going to knock on their door and ask, 'How can we be of assistance to improve your services? Did you know about small business loans that banks provide, or research and development grants that are available?' That's our objective. Now that you're up and running, we have the knowledge -- and you should consider using it."

Adam Serfilippi is certainly glad he used it: "I'd say we owe about 50-60% of our success to VBEC," he says.

The Vaughan Business Enterprise Centre is located at 9995 Keele St, in Vaughan. It's open Monday to Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information, visit www.centrebusiness.com or call 905-417-0412.



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