Launch Pad is an innovative youth technology and trades centre located in Hanover, Ontario. Its mission is to help youth find their passion and connect with local employers and the community, while helping them develop skills learned at Launch Pad into career opportunities.
Launch Pad does this by providing skills-based after school programming in various trades, including welding, woodworking, electrical, culinary, coding, and automotive. Launch Pad has its own certified kitchen, woodshop, and welding shop and utilizes these spaces for programming, as well as many community partnerships with local businesses, to make sure youth aged 12-18 get the most out of their courses.
Launch Pad has many community partners, including the Town of Hanover and Bruce Power, but the Saugeen Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) is a long-standing and important partnership, which has been there from the very beginning, in 2015.
Launch Pad Executive Director, Emily Morrison, explains, “The Saugeen Economic Development Corporation is a lifelong partner, providing stable funding in the form of a grant for Launch Pad every year. As well, the Saugeen Economic Development Corporation provides so much more in terms of staff support, mentorship, other funding, coaching, and specific grants for other programming.”
In summer 2021, Launch Pad branched into youth summer job creation, and launched a social enterprise of its own, an ice cream truck, Neptune Scoops! Seven youth from 15 to 18 years old, five of whom were funded by the Canada Summer Jobs Grant, took the project from business plan to final report, from May to September. The youth, all girls, made the business plan, kept the ice cream truck open every day from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., made all the business decisions, and crafted a final report at the end of the season.
Neptune Scoops was also able to partner with other aspects of Launch Pad’s programming, including the woodshop and another youth who started a cookie business. Morrison says enthusiastically, “The woodworking group made picnic tables which were used for seating for the ice cream truck, and Neptune Scoops bought cookies from the youth entrepreneur to make ice cream cookies. The youth utilized as many partnerships as they could to support the community.”
Of course, the youth needed support for this enterprise, and the Saugeen Economic Development Corporation was once again there to help them. The Saugeen Economic Development Corporation provided funding, training sessions, and a business coach who helped with both the business plan and the final report, as well as answering questions along the way. Morrison says, “The SEDC made it possible for us to put this plan into action and give seven youth summer jobs and incredible experience in entrepreneurship and running a business.”
In addition, Morrison says, “The final report that the business coach helped the youth put together was invaluable in helping our board decide whether to run the truck again, and in helping the youth figure out what worked, what didn’t, and what they would change if they did it again.”
The good news? Neptune Scoops is a go again for summer 2022, with some changes.
Morrison explains, “In 2021, we didn’t get insurance for the business, so it stayed in the Launch Pad parking lot for the summer. From Thursday to Sunday, this worked well, but Monday to Wednesday there wasn’t much business in our area.
“Next summer, we hope to get insurance and take advantage of area businesses’ offers to have the ice cream truck at their locations for company barbeques and special events. Our local fair is also opening to food trucks, and we hope to be there as well.”
Thanks to Launch Pad and the Saugeen Economic Development Corporation, the future looks bright for youth in Hanover and area, and don’t worry, there will be plenty of ice cream too!
To learn more about Launch Pad, visit www.mylaunchpad.ca or call (519) 506-6300.
To learn more about Saugeen Economic Development Corporation, visit www.sbdc.ca or call (519) 799-5750.