The owner of a new recording studio in downtown Sarnia has received a boost from the Starter Company Plus program.
The program, offered by the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership [SLEP], provides mentorship and $5,000 grants to support entrepreneurship and foster the growth of small businesses throughout the county.
Saint Nick Productions' owner Nicholas Katz is a JUNO-nominated audio engineer, music producer, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and educator.
He tells Sarnia News Today he's involved in a strategic partnership that will see 8,100 square feet of commercial property transformed to include his studio, private karaoke rooms, live venue, restaurant and gallery space.
"It's been amazing," Katz said. "I've had the opportunity over the last couple months to just work alongside them [SLEP] with meetings at local businesses to get better mentorship and connect with local business owners, and talk about our plans, and facilities, and ways that we can improve our work along the way."
He said the space, in the area of Christina and Davis Streets, has yet to open.
"We're currently working on putting down floors for certain parts of the facilities that we're putting together," said Katz.
Once the studio is up and running, Katz said he will make it available to lease out when possible.
"I have an international reach, working with my team from Toronto, doing remote sessions and all of those services," he said. "But, I also plan to put together writing trips, to be able to host local artists to come out as well as to be able to perform at our live venue."
Katz said he's been involved in music his whole life. He moved from Calgary to Toronto in 2015 to attend Humber College.
"While I was there I started working with this production team who worked with Alessia Cara, Drake and Rihanna. But, unfortunately, our studios flooded and I had to reevaluate where I was going to go at that point," he said. "Talking with one of my best friends from college, I found out about their plans to start putting together this hub out here in Sarnia. So, I moved out here in June 2022 to start putting everything together."
Katz said before that he'd never heard of Sarnia and has been pleasantly surprised since.
"The first month that I came out here... seeing First Friday and all of the community initiatives and everything that was going on... it was amazing," he said. "I'd never experienced anything like that before. Even being in Toronto or Calgary, the art scenes [there] are kind of closed off and often in their own little world," he said. "There's not really those opportunities for collaboration and to meet other local business owners and everything."
Katz wasn't the only one to receive a $5,000 grant, three other small businesses were selected as well.
• Rhythm and Beet Collective owner Chantelle Dillon delivers innovative and accessible Pilates classes for all levels of fitness.
• Katelyn Bedard owns RYDN, a bike rental company which aims to service various communities around Sarnia-Lambton, by providing stationed, free-floating, or mixed fleets of bikes.
• Bluewater Virtual Business Solution CEO/Founder Kelly Hill provides personal bookkeeping services.
All Sarnia-Lambton residents can gain access to the services provided by the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership's Business Enterprise Centre.
Workshops, seminars, and personalized business consultations to assist aspiring, new, and existing entrepreneurs are available for free. The business counseling services cover a range of areas, like addressing inquiries or concerns, refining business ideas and developing business plans.
The program will have another intake this year.
The deadline to apply is September 28, 2023.
More information can be found here.