SMARTStart program wins another award


A made-in-Airdrie program that links budding entrepreneurs with established business mentors won another award Oct. 4. The SMARTStart program, developed by the Airdrie Business Resource Partnership (ABRP), was recognized by the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) with the 2016 Above and Beyond Award: Economic Sustainability.

The award was presented during the AUMA President’s Dinner in Edmonton by AUMA President Lisa Holmes.

This is the fourth award the program has received since its inception in 2014. The eight-month program is comprised of online training through the GoForth Institute, 10 in-person seminars with local experts and the formation of mentor connections in the community.

The AUMA award was accepted on behalf of SMARTStart by Leona Esau, City of Airdrie intermunicipal liaison, and Kent Rupert, team leader, Airdrie Economic Development.

“We are very proud of this program and it’s gratifying to be recognized for the group’s efforts,” Rupert said. “But the real reward is seeing the difference we’re making in the entrepreneurial community and seeing people succeed with their passions of opening a business in Airdrie.”

Three classes have graduated from the program thus far and applications are currently being accepted for year four. Applications will be accepted up to the middle of January with the program set to start in mid-February.

The first call for applications received 37 applications for the 20 available positions. More than 50 local entrepreneurs have graduated from the program to date.

Mentors volunteer their time and are expected to commit a minimum of 15 hours to the program, although some go far beyond that. Mentors meet in person and over the phone with the entrepreneur they are coaching.

SMARTstart was the brainchild of Community Futures Centre West (CFCW) and is delivered by the ABRP, which includes Airdrie Chamber of Commerce, City of Airdrie Economic Development, Bow Valley College and CFCW.

More information is available at


About Author