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Thursday, December 7, 2023
Summer program grants helped NOTL students launch businesses
Preston Sibley, 18, started his video production company after having heart surgery three years ago. SUPPLIED
Seventeen-year-old Luke Midgley’s business Simply Electric offers various lawn care services. JULIA SACCO

In the beginning, video production was just an amusing pastime for Preston Sibley.

He started Sibp55 Productions three years ago, after undergoing heart surgery and thus being in need of a new hobby.

“At that point, I was just making videos for fun,” he told The Lake Report.

Fast-forward three years, the 18-year-old student from Niagara-on-the-Lake is now diving head-first into the world of business. 

“This year, I decided to expand my knowledge and see how this passion project can benefit others,” he said.

He heard about the Ontario Summer Company Program last winter through his peers and decided to apply.

Sibley is one of two NOTL students who was selected and took part in the provincial summer program, which aims to help young people reach their entrepreneurial goals.

The program provides students with training, mentorship and a micro-grant of up to $3,000 to support their businesses.

Sibley’s company, Sibp55 Productions specializes in video production and photography, offering a variety of services like music videos, promotional content and wedding shoots.

He said he most enjoyed meeting new people and helping to turn their ideas into reality.

“Connecting with clients and taking what they envisioned and making it happen is my favourite part,” he said.

The other student chosen was 17-year-old Luke Midgley. His business, Simply Electric, offers lawn care and yard cleanup services with a focus on environmentally friendly equipment.

By using electrical power to operate equipment rather than gas-powered machines, Midgley is minimizing his carbon footprint while also producing less noise and mess on the job.

“I think we all need to start focusing more on being eco-friendly, because we’re headed in the wrong direction,” said Midgley.

The Eden High School student explained that lawn mowers produce significant carbon emissions, while battery-powered machines are more environmentally friendly and are more effective.

Midgley learned about the program through his business teacher, Holly Etherington, and knew he had to give it a shot.

“The best part of the program is being a part of the community it brings, and not just the staff but the other students as well. We can bounce ideas off each other and help motivate one another,” he said.

The provincial program is delivered locally by the Niagara Falls Small Business Enterprise Centre.

Dean Spironello, a representative of the centre, said the program gives students hands-on experience in running a business, allowing them to be creative and grow as entrepreneurs.

“What stood out to me about Preston and Luke is their willingness to experiment with new strategies and being open-minded to trying new things when it comes to growing their businesses,” Spironello said.

“We’re really looking for young people who are self-starters and who are motivated to put their best foot forward,” he added.

Applications for the 2024 annual program open in the spring.

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