Lina Ball has Yellowknife dancing! Owner of Bella Dance Academy wins BDC's Young Entrepreneur Award for the Northwest Territories



    YELLOWKNIFE, NT, Oct. 21 /CNW Telbec/ - Lina Ball has taken her passion
for dance and built it into a thriving business that is growing by leaps and
bounds. Lina, 29, has won BDC's Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for the
Northwest Territories and will be honoured tonight at a ceremony in Vancouver,
British Columbia.
    "I have a bachelor of science degree, and didn't anticipate doing this at
all," says Lina. But a move to Yellowknife with her husband in 2003 changed
all that. "I have danced since I was three and when I moved here, I needed to
do something for myself. My husband and I visited his company's warehouse-a
beautiful building with high ceilings-and I said, 'This could be a dance
studio!' That was the inspiration. Once I decided to do start a dance school,
nothing could stop me."
    Bella Dance Academy offers ballet, tap, jazz, modern and hip hop dance
classes, as well as classes for parents and tots. Students range in age from
18 months to 65 years old. During the first dance season, 120 students signed
up for 25 classes and Lina taught them all herself. "I did everything and
anything I could to promote the classes that first year," she says. "I worked
at festivals, handed out flyers, did a mail-out, ran radio and newspaper
advertising, talked to daycares and schools-just anything."

    Stepping up

    By the second year, Lina had added four instructors, and the numbers of
students and classes just kept growing. "This dance season-2008-2009-is a big
one for us," she says. "We're moving to a new location with two studios in one
building. By the end of last season, we already had 300 students registered to
start in September and only 25 more spots to fill. We are doing 35 classes
with six instructors plus myself." Lina's business plan has been carefully
thought out. "We set goals every year and we've always met our enrollment
number goals," she explains. "It's really important to me to increase at a
steady pace, but also to keep the quality of the programs and to create a
positive environment for the students."
    While Bella Dance Academy has no direct competitors in Yellowknife, Lina
explains that offering dance classes in this remote location comes with
certain challenges. Staffing is one of them. "It takes at least a year to
train a student to teach," she says, "and most of the kids leave Yellowknife
after they graduate. So I train them for a year to teach for one or two years
and then they're gone. That's been hard. But I have been lucky to find a
couple of wonderful instructors who have fine arts degrees and a lot of
experience."
    Lina's studio has become a fixture in Yellowknife, with students
performing in sold-out shows at the end of every season, at community events
such as the Festival of Trees and at a local seniors' residence.
    "Lina has turned her love of dance into a living. By combining her
artistic talents with business savvy, she has filled a niche and brought
something fresh and unique to her community," says BDC President and CEO
Jean-René Halde.
    "I am rewarded every day by seeing the progress of the children who take
our classes," says Lina. "I really enjoy teaching dance. But there's a whole
other side to it-the business side. And it's nice to be recognized for that."

    Highlighting young leaders

    BDC's Young Entrepreneur Awards are a highlight of Small Business Week.
They recognize the entrepreneurial spirit, and the business and leadership
accomplishments, of Canadians between the ages of 19 and 35. Winners from each
province and territory are selected by a panel based on the originality of
their business concept, success, growth potential and social involvement. The
panel also considers the entrepreneur's age when the business was started and
any special challenges that were overcome.

    Small Business Week partners

    Contributing to the success of this year's Small Business Week and Young
Entrepreneur Awards are the following national sponsors: Rogers, Western
Economic Diversification Canada and Export Development Canada. Privileged
partners are the Pan Canadian Community Futures Group and the Canadian Chamber
of Commerce, which has been a privileged partner of the event since 1981.

    About BDC

    BDC is Canada's business development bank. From 94 branches across the
country, BDC promotes entrepreneurship by providing highly tailored financing,
venture capital and consulting services to entrepreneurs. BDC works with
entrepreneurs in all industries, through all economic cycles and focuses on
helping small and medium sized businesses in their development projects, local
and global. BDC manages a $10.6 billion loan and investment portfolio and
serves over 28,000 clients. Small and medium sized businesses make up 99.7% of
all employer businesses in Canada. Visit www.bdc.ca for more information.

    Small Business Week is a registered trademark of BDC.




For further information:

For further information: or to arrange for an interview on October 21:
BDC Media Room, (604) 893-7343, 1-877-232-9321; After October 21: Johanne
Bissonnette, Media Relations Manager, (514) 283-7929


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