Frequently Asked Questions About Win This Space

Who is eligible to participate in Win This Space?
The competition is open to all legal residents of Canada, 19 years of age or older at the time of submitting a business idea for the competition. The applicant must be living in the Province of Ontario. You must be looking to open a business in Downtown St. Catharines.

What is the St. Catharines Downtown Association and what is its mandate?
Check out www.mydowntown.ca/about-us

What kinds of businesses are eligible for the Win This Space competition?

  • Independently owned (sole proprietorship) or partnerships or small business corporations
  • Home-based businesses looking to make the move to a storefront
  • Businesses that conform to zoning/by-laws for downtown as required by the City of St. Catharines

Types of business ideas that will not be given consideration:

  • The purchasing or taking over of an existing business
  • Multi-level marketing business ideas
  • Franchises
  • Full service restaurants

Contest Information Sessions

Wednesday October 17 at 10:00am


Tuesday October 23 at 6:00pm

Mahtay Cafe & Lounge, 241 St. Paul Street, Downtown St. Catharines

What type of time commitment will be involved to participate in the contest?
You will be required to commit a significant amount of time to participate in the contest. There will be 4 mandatory business workshops that will take two evenings to complete (6 hours total). You will have to do market research and a lot of thinking about the details of your business. You will have to create a detailed business plan, marketing plan and financial plan. You will also have to create a presentation for the judges if you are chosen to proceed to the final phase. There is another 3-hour seminar that will not be mandatory but would be advisable to attend. It will focus on structuring a business plan presentation and how to present the plan, and yourself, to the judges for the most effective result. You will also be invited to tour some available properties (2 hours). You may also need to attend the Finale event and give a short presentation. (2-hour event)

If I already own a business, can I still enter Win This Space?
Absolutely!!  If you have solid multi-tasking skills, then submit your idea.  If you are a current business owner, the business idea must be either 1) be unrelated to your existing business, or 2) introduce a new element not promoted at your existing business, or 3) expand upon an element that would be removed from your existing business 4) your current location is not in Downtown St. Catharines.

I am interested in launching a business with a partner – do we both need to put in applications?
No, only one application needs to be submitted by one of the partners, but definitely cite that you’re a partnership.  Note the partners and the skills that they bring and how they will enhance the business idea and your success.

Do I need to work in the business daily?
It is encouraged, but you are not necessarily expected to work in the winning space/business on a daily basis.  If you are selected as a Finalist, your business plan and financial plan must reflect appropriate salaries and related expenses for staff.

Can I submit more that one idea?
Yes, you can!  If you have a few ideas that you feel are viable businesses for Downtown St. Catharines, then submit them.

Please note that only one of your ideas can be selected since candidates will be required to focus their time and energy on the development of one business concept during the required business workshops.  For example, each selected candidate will be creating a detailed business plan, a marketing strategy, and delving into financial details.

How are finalists and the winner selected?
From the initial entries, up to 15 finalists will be chosen. These finalists must then develop and refine their business concept and create a full business plan including a marketing strategy and a financial plan. Finalists will be required to take advantage of FREE business development workshops and mentoring offered by the St. Catharines Enterprise Centre and Innovate Niagara.

Participants will then be narrowed down to the Top Finalists who will be required to create a short presentation and pitch it to our panel of judges also answering questions posed by the judges.  Based on both the business plan and live presentation/Q&A, our panel of judges will score each Top Finalist and determine one Grand Prize Winner.  For additional information, please read our Rules & Regulations.

Can the Judges’ decisions be reconsidered?
No.  Our panel of judges’ selections, judgments and decisions will be final and binding.

What are the Business Development Workshops?
The workshops will provide the education needed to help Finalists develop a business idea, as well as guide their research, and create the business plan components. There are 4 mandatory workshops that Finalists must attend.  They will take place one evening per week (3 hours) over a two-week period.  Two workshops will be given on each evening.  The workshops will be held at the St. Catharines Enterprise Centre in downtown St. Catharines. They are FREE to all contestants.  The Enterprise Centre will also provide mentorship during the preparation of your business plan and ongoing support after the contest if you open a business.  For workshop scheduling information see Rules & Regulations - Appendix A - Important Dates, Timeline and Locations.

For more information about the St. Catharines Enterprise Centre visit: www.stcatharines.ca/en/investin/StartingaBusiness.asp

Who will see my Win This Space entry and any other submissions?
Your Win This Space entry and any other submissions (i.e. Business Plan, Marketing Strategy, Financial Plan) may be seen by the following: St. Catharines Downtown Business Association Board of Management, Executive Director and Win This Space Coordinator, the City of St. Catharines Economic Development Officer, St. Catharines Enterprise Centre Staff,  and the Win This Space panel of judges.

What Happens If I Am the Winner?
The winner must commit to signing a minimum 1-year lease with one of the participating spaces that are available at the end of the competition.  A lease agreement needs to be in place before the winner receives any prize winnings.  For additional information, see contest Rules & Regulations.

Where are the locations I can choose from if I win?
All locations will be in downtown St. Catharines within the BIA boundary (see Map).  We will always be seeking locations and will update online as they are confirmed or change throughout the contest.  Available spaces will be dynamic as landlords may receive offers to lease in the interim and are not required to “hold” properties or decline a qualified tenant.

What kind of businesses are permitted in the designated BIA area?
The City of St. Catharines Zoning By-law Dec. 16, 2013 outlines zoning and permitted uses. 

  • Page 209 – Map of Downtown Core and Zoning
  • Pages 23 to 28 – Section 4.1 and 4.2 should be referenced.

NOTE:  Contestants must confirm with the City of St. Catharines Planning Department if their proposed business is allowable under the zoning for the area.

When Would I be Required to Sign a Lease?
The winner should work to have a lease agreement for one of the available spaces within 60 days of winning the competition.  The lease agreement and terms will be agreed upon by the landlord/property agent and the winner, and not involve the St. Catharines Downtown Association, contest sponsors or the panel of judges. For additional information, see contest Rules & Regulations.

What If I Win but Cannot Obtain a Lease?
If the winner cannot obtain a lease agreement within 60 days of winning, the prize could be forfeited.  The first runner up could be contacted and start a new 60-day window to sign a lease agreement. For additional information, see contest Rules & Regulations.

If I Win, Can I Ask for a Different Prize of Equal Value?
Sorry – no.  The prize is not transferable and may not be redeemed for cash.

Where can I see the contest Rules & Regulations for Win This Space?
Click here to download the contest Rules & Regulations.

Win This Space Contest Rules & Regulations and Important Dates are subject to change.  Any contest updates will be posted on our webpage.

Other questions about Win This Space?
Please contact Tracy Jennings, Win This Space Coordinator, St. Catharines Downtown Association at winthisspace@mydowntown.ca or call 905-685-8424.

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