Thursday’s show celebrates spirit, sinew, sweat!

At some point, the penny drops. We get tired of commuting. We get our final layoff notice. Or, we decide we can do better on our own.

Whatever the reason, next Thursday, October 16, 150 entrepreneurs will celebrate themselves!

Doing Business With Your Neighbours is a showcase of people who took their futures into their own hands and have products and services available to you. And the nice thing is that by doing business with ‘your neighbours’ you’ll be contributing to the local economy.

This show is in its fifth year and both floors at The Event Centre will be booming with activity, starting at 11 am and going until 9 pm. Workshops for people who are thinking about self employment, workshops for those whose businesses are underway… it’ll all be there and it’ll be promoted in an insert in The Advance this week.

What I want to tell you about this week is that this is a totally grass roots show, driven by the volunteer efforts of dozens of entrepreneurs who work all year to make this happen.

These are the people I want to share with you today… Lorraine Rice, owner of BOSS Technologies, is the glue that holds the group together. Chief minute taker, it’s Lorraine who keeps the group on track, who sends out the minutes and agendas, and who remembers who agreed to do what, when.

Chair of the event is Pete Desloges whose management training and consulting company is certainly demonstrated in her leadership of the whole group.

The Event Centre is a huge venue and dividing up booth space, figuring out who wants (and gets) hydro and who needs a wall and who needs a whizbang for their booth is one giant job, capably undertaken by Len Hopper. Len used to be an IT guru with the Royal Bank. Today, he grows magnificent garlic in Utopia. He’s been tireless in his attention to detail, and his organizing team has included Brenda Richardson of G&B Sharp Shooters, Rhonda McDonald of Everlasting, Steve Reimer of Reimer Woodcraft.

Of course, Len’s committee wouldn’t have any work to do if the booth sales committee wasn’t in full force. Chris Fournier of Crayzee Teez, Dall Mills of Complete Blinds, Jerry Whidden of Home Spec, Jack Padley of Paradigm Hearth & Leisure, Debra Hannah of Feels Like Heaven, and Reta Whelan of Simcoe Credit Management have all been fanning out across Barrie Region to bring entrepreneurs in to the show. This group has surely developed the ‘neighbourhood’ in this show.

Food. What’s a show without food? While Bruce Martin of Central Custom Foods is teaming up with Jack Padley to cook tidbits at an outside booth, Nancy Groves of Browns Catering is whipping up all the terrific food items that will anchor the first and second floors of the show.

Valerie Lawrence, Customer Service Solutions, is heading up Publicity and Marketing, assisted by Tammy Kerr of Kerr Promotions, and Linda Laforge of LA Designs.

When you arrive at the show, you’ll be greeted by the smiling faces of Liz Edwards (Edwards Senior Services) and Jennifer Bowles of Scentsability Naturals. There are dozens of door prizes at the show, all coordinated by Michele Richmond of Hair on Wheels, Scott Archibald of Group One Graphics, and Lesley Svistunenko of Designs by Lesley.

The Youth Entrepreneur portion of the show features 15 young business owners, with energy to match their initiative. This part, Youth 2 Business, is coordinated by Lee Anne Wilkins of the Business Enterprise Resource Network.

The entire website ( and information technology is the brainchild of Katie Whissel of Accord Media. Katie has managed to allow the entire group to communicate online, to find out booths sold, latest workshop trends, program details. Katie coordinates it all in a dynamic website… a truly volunteer effort on her part.

And money! Since this is a volunteer effort, every nickel is spent carefully, which means the show financial guru has to be on top of everything. Ann Ramsay, Certified Management Accountant, is the beancounter in charge.

And Program? Two keynote speakers, eight entrepreneur workshops, our Town Crier announ cing it all, presenters, thankers, gift baskets for speakers, decorations, prizes… all donated by entrepreneurs… that committee involves Kellie Molnar of Iced Delights, Rosalind Daschuk of Keystone Connexion, Trish Smith of TLS Technical, Lanny Chennette of I-Biz and yours truly, Donna Douglas.

I love the energy of entrepreneurs. I love working with a group of people so dedicated to making a show like this happen.

If you’ve ever–EVER–wished you could be in charge of your own future, come on down to The Event Centre on Thursday. We’ll all be there, until 9 pm so the commuters can stop by as well.

To check on the program, go to our website… What a beginning to Small Business Week!

Thanks, Team.