DBIA launches program to pay your rent to open new business

May 4, 2018

CORNWALL, Ontario – It’s called WIN THIS SPACE – and it’s going to make your chances of opening a new business in Cornwall’s downtown that much easier.

The Cornwall Downtown Business Improvement Area (DBIA) has launched the program that will give one lucky individual $1,000 a month for an entire year to open a business within the downtown district. You can download the entry form and view all the details and official rules of the program by clicking here.

“This program has been incredibly effective in other communities in southern Ontario, and we’re looking forward to seeing it bear fruit in our community as well,” said Todd Lihou, Centretown Coordinator. “Our members downtown and the DBIA board are making business retention a focus this year, and this program helps us achieve many of those goals.”


This summer the DBIA will choose up to 25 candidates to take part in its WIN THIS SPACE initiative, one of whom will win up to $1,000 a month for an entire year to cover rent/lease payments after setting up a business within the DBIA.

“We realize starting a business is difficult work. It’s a risk, and involves plenty of blood, sweat and tears to turn a great idea into a profitable enterprise,” said Lihou. “That’s why we have partnered with the Cornwall Business Entreprise Centre to offer six weeks of classes that will arm our finalists with knowledge on how to build a business plan, market their business and navigate the complicated water of establishing a new business.

“And the best part is – it’s all free.”

This fall the candidates will be pared down to five finalists who will present their business ideas to a panel of local judges representing the DBIA who will choose a winner in a Dragon’s Den-type event. Creativity, passion about your business and ultimately some great ideas mixed with some business savvy could land you the grand prize.

The DBIA will assume no control, nor authority to execute any lease agreements between the winner and potential landlords. All negotiations to that end, as well as final agreements, will be the sole responsibility of the business and property owners. Post-dated cheques will be issued to cover lease payments for an entire year and if the business ceases operation before 12 months are complete the balance of the payments will be cancelled.

WIN THIS SPACE is open to all legal residents of Canada, who are 19 years of age or older at the time of submitting an entry. No franchises will be considered.

If the candidate is a current local business owner, an application must be filed with the intent to introduce, open and operate a concept which will offer a new element not promoted in the existing location, or expand upon and highlight an element that would be removed from the existing location.

Candidates must be willing to commit to signing a minimum one-year lease from one of the participating spaces, which are available for lease as at the end of the competition. Candidates must have submitted an entry into the competition by 4 pm on Aug. 3, 2018 to have their idea considered as part of the competition.


Candidates must submit an entry into the competition by 4 p.m. on Aug. 3, 2018 to have their idea considered as part of the competition. Entries can be sent by email ( or delivered to the Cornwall and Area Chamber of Commerce (113 Second Street East). Up to 25 finalists will then be selected, who will undergo six weeks of training by the Cornwall Business Enterprise Centre. Additional training and mentoring is allowed, and even encouraged – but this will come at the expense of the finalist.

Finalists must submit business plans and supporting documents to the Cornwall DBIA by 4 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 19, 2018. The Judging Panel will choose five finalists, who will be expected to participate in a Live finale to be held on Nov. 9, 2018. The finalists will present their respective business concepts and plans to the judging panel, and be asked to demonstrate via product or electronic media, how the business could be displayed, marketed, etc.

All dates are subject to minor variances at the discretion of the DBIA and/or the judging panel.


Opening a new business is a big step – but the Cornwall DBIA is here to help. If you have any questions concerning the WIN THIS SPACE initiative you are encouraged to contact Todd Lihou, Centretown Coordinator with Heart of the City, who can help navigate you through the entry process. He can be reached at 613-933-4004, ext. 224, or

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