“Spark" Mentorships & Grants Program


January 9, 2020
CHATHAM, ON – The Ontario Tourism Innovation Lab and its Municipality of Chatham-Kent partners, Chatham-Kent Tourism and Economic Development, hosted a “Dragon's Denstyle” event at SOAR Innovation, Wednesday, January 8. Five "Spark" Program finalists pitched their innovative tourism ideas for the region. The top three were selected to receive a $3,000 grant to start up and grow their tourism idea. Winners also receive a dedicated mentor to ensure long term success and time and space thanks to SOAR. VIA Rail generously gave all five finalists travel vouchers as well.

The "Spark" Program’s goal is to find, foster and support new tourism ideas that will enhance current tourism offerings, create new, high-quality tourism experiences, addresses gaps in tourism products and services, motivate travel, longer stays and repeat visits, and increase year-round visitation and tourism spending. 

2019-20 Chatham-Kent “Spark” Program winners

Pictured Left to Right

Forest Therapy Walks, Dan & Ann Wright

TJ Stables, John Basdin, Terry Jenkins, Andria Dyer

Fresh Connection, Thomas Waite, Tabitha Hastings, Susanne Spence Wilkins

The Chatham-Kent “Spark” Mentorships & Grants Program is a partnership between the Ontario Tourism Innovation Lab (a program of Hackforge), Ontario Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, Southwest Ontario Tourism, Chatham-Kent Tourism, Chatham-Kent Economic Development, VIA Rail Canada, Libro Credit Union and SOAR Innovation. Chatham-Kent is one of 5 regions in the province to offer the program to date.
The winners were presented with special certificates by MPP Rick Nicholls, Mayor Darrin Canniff, Tracey Nurmi from VIA Rail Canada, Jerry Delaey from Libro Credit Union, and Gaurav Gupta from SOAR Innovation.   

“We were excited to receive seventeen applications from across Chatham-Kent,” said Justin Lafontaine, Program Lead for the Ontario Tourism Innovation Lab. “We congratulate our pitch session winners and look forward to supporting them to help take their great new tourism ideas to the next level.”

“We look forward to working with the winners of this program as we continue to foster new experiential tourism offerings in Chatham-Kent,” said Shannon Paiva, Tourism Supervisor, Chatham-Kent Tourism. “We have such great assets to showcase, and the partnerships that are being formed and inspiration all seventeen applicants have shown will truly go along way in further increasing the number of visitors coming to see all we have.”

For more information visit www.tourisminnovation.ca/chathamkent.