More and more young people who want to live and work in Cape Breton are creating their own jobs, says the head of the region's economic agency.
Eileen Oldford, CEO of Business Cape Breton, said numbers are up for people between 25 and 35 seeking help to establish a business.
"We have, to date, 134 businesses that have been assisted in establishing here," she said.
"We see a difference now in the clients coming in — a difference in age and they're really plugged in, I find, mostly in a national and international level."
40 clients in 6 months
In the last six months, Business Cape Breton has accumulated a wait list of 40 clients seeking business advisory services.
"A lot of these individuals want to remain in Cape Breton and they want to find a process that's going to help them stay," said Oldford.
"They want to know with this business opportunity, can I have a career and create employment for other individuals? They are putting in their time to do the research, to do their business plan."
She said there are a variety of new businesses being started by young people and numerous success stories.
Being his own boss
Andrew Vanderwyst, 35, opened his own lawn-care company called Turf Smurfs, which now has three employees.
"When I was brainstorming different things, I just wanted something that was really catchy, kind of a little funny, that would be memorable," he said.
He said Business Cape Breton helped him develop a business plan and get in contact with other organizations to help him succeed.
"I love it, I absolutely love the freedom of being my own boss," said Vanderwyst.
"It is stressful at times, it's not always easy-peasy, but it's definitely something I enjoy doing."
'A very functional plan'
Andrew MacKinnon launched a company in Membertou called SeaPur, which processes raw seaweed, with two partners in their early 30s.
"We were looking at piles and piles of seaweed on the beaches in Cape Breton. We found there was a high demand for sea-plant-type products for various industries," MacKinnon said.
"We contacted Business Cape Breton, they took all of the thoughts that we had, and they put pen to paper and put it into a very functional plan."
Oldford said Business Cape Breton is also seeing a boost in entrepreneurs who want to start a second venture.
Business Cape Breton will roll out a new mentorship program next month, something Oldford said will hopefully encourage even more young people to turn to them for help.