Outgoing Guelph Chamber of Commerce president Lloyd Longfield won’t need to scope out a new route to the office when he leaves his post on the second floor of 111 Farquhar St. next week. Instead, he’ll climb an extra flight of stairs in the Granary Building to arrive at Innovation Guelph – an organization he helped establish in 2010 – where he’ll expand on his contributions as a volunteer mentor in a new, full-time mentor role.
Longfield will focus his efforts on Innovation Guelph’s new Fast Lane program for small- and medium-sized entreprises, to support innovation and growth in the manufacturing sector.
“Innovation Guelph was a ‘pet project’ begun under the Guelph Chamber of Commerce about four years ago, and I‘ve been working with manufacturers as a volunteer mentor since then,” says Longfield. “The need for innovation in this critical sector is increasing, and I’m looking forward to providing a concerted effort to support growth of Innovation Guelph clients in this sector.”
Innovation Guelph has expanded its roster of entrepreneurship experts with two additional mentors – Niel Palmer and Monica Schut – for a total of eight mentors.
“Over the past four years, Innovation Guelph has established itself as key player in the development of the Guelph region’s local innovation economy,” says Jamie Doran, Chief Executive Officer at Innovation Guelph. “Adding Lloyd, Niel and Monica to our mentor team will help us to further deliver on the specialized programs and initiatives we’ve developed – such as Speedway, Fast Lane, and the Women’s Economic Advancement Project – to ensure local companies and entrepreneurs have access to the resources and solutions they need for business success.”
A graduate of the University of Guelph’s Bachelor of Science program, Niel Palmer joins the mentor team at Innovation Guelph following a career in the aerospace, wire and cable management systems, and composite component manufacture industries. Palmer is a business coach and consultant who specializes in the implementation of lean principles, process flow optimization, strategic planning and resource coordination for small- and medium-sized businesses.
Like Longfield, Palmer will champion Innovation Guelph’s Fast Lane program, working one-on-one with management teams in the manufacturing sector to solve business challenges unique to the industry.
“I cannot think of a better way to contribute to strengthening our local economy than by creating a cohesive business community where entrepreneurs are given the opportunity to realize their dreams,” says Palmer. “In this new role with Innovation Guelph, I have the opportunity to assist entrepreneurs to distill their vision and develop sustainable, thriving businesses – a meaningful pursuit to say the least. I consider it a privilege to be associated with Innovation Guelph’s professional and highly effective team.”
Monica Schut is Innovation Guelph’s first female mentor. An artist and lifelong entrepreneur with a multi-location retail design business based in the GTA, Schut brings a fresh perspective on entrepreneurship, and will help meet growing demand from local women entrepreneurs for female business mentorship. Schut is well-known in the Guelph business community for her contributions as an advisor at the Guelph-Wellington Business Enterprise Centre, where she particularly enjoyed working with youth through the Summer Company program. Schut will continue this focus by also working with Innovation Guelph’s young and student entrepreneur clients.
“Innovation in the truest sense is the application of creativity. Helping people to utilize the creative possibilities in their lives is a large part of the mentoring process,” says Schut. “It’s an honour and a privilege to join the mentoring team at Innovation Guelph and I look forward to working with its clients and staff.”