Support Western Prince Edward Island's Shellfish Wranglers

Vote for Prince Edward Island's finalist for the $100,000 BDC Young Entrepreneur Award

O'LEARY, PE, June 3, 2015 /CNW Telbec/ - The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) announced today that the turning-point project "Oyster Rush," submitted by local businessman Martin O'Brien, will represent Prince Edward Island in the finals for the 2015 BDC Young Entrepreneur Award.

Martin's project will help his company, Cascumpec Bay Oyster Company Ltd., invest in an oyster grading-and-sizing machine that will boost its output of premium shellfish. To claim the BDC Young Entrepreneur Award $100,000 grand prize and fund this project, Martin needs votes from Canadians from coast-to-coast.

Martin grew up in a fishing community, and learned first-hand what it takes to build an oyster business when his family switched from fishing for lobster and crab. When the opportunity came to buy an existing oyster-processing business, he jumped at the chance. Business has been good - so good, in fact, that he is leaving money on the table because he can't keep up with demand from discriminating consumers in Quebec and Ontario.

"PEI's oyster industry is experiencing fantastic growth, driven by the popularity of oysters worldwide," Martin says. "Part of the reason is that cultured oysters are one of the most sustainable and green foods out there. They even clean the waters in which they grow."

In a market split between large bulk producers and small farmers, Martin and his team emphasize quality above all else. Up to 15,000 Cascumpec and Foxley River oysters are consumed each week at the height of the season by discriminating consumers in Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa. Like many other small farmers, Cascumpec Bay Oyster Co. grades and sizes its oysters by hand. With each year's harvest, this is a full-time effort that can take two full months.

A grading-and-sizing machine, however, could cut that to a few weeks. This would allow Martin to purchase more stock from other quality farmers and meet the year-round demand for his oysters. This kind of investment would demonstrate to other small farmers that automation isn't only for large bulk producers and can, in fact, provide them with a new competitive edge to grow their businesses.

"Each of this year's finalists has provided a compelling story about how their business stands at that crucial crossroads where the right mix of vision and action can secure future growth and success," says Michel Bergeron, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Public Affairs at BDC. "With his plan to invest in automation, Martin is charting a new course for the local oyster economy and shows how that applying the right technology can have important economic benefits for small businesses, even in the most traditional industries."

"It's frustrating that I almost never have enough oysters because the demand is so great," Martin says. "This is a challenge for any small farmer who relies on manual processes and we don't want to miss out on an opportunity that's on our doorsteps. Vote for us so we can give all of Canada a true taste of a quality Prince Edward Island oyster."

Voting for the 2015 BDC Young Entrepreneur Award contest runs from June 3 to June 17. To support your favourite project, log onto the contest microsite and vote once a day. Follow the contest through updates on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Visit bdc.ca/awards to learn about other ways in which BDC recognizes Canadian entrepreneurs. The BDC Young Entrepreneur Award winner and runner-up will be announced on June 22. The runner-up will receive $25,000 in consulting services.

About the BDC Young Entrepreneur Award contest

Created by the Business Development Bank of Canada in 1988, the BDC Young Entrepreneur Award contest pays tribute to remarkable Canadian entrepreneurs between 18 and 35 years of age. Ten finalists were selected to compete for a $100,000 grand prize. A second prize of $25,000 in consulting services will be awarded to the contest runner-up. A national committee evaluates the quality of the finalist projects and gives each finalist a ranking that will be combined with the public vote. In 2015, the national committee evaluation is weighted to account for 50% of each project's final ranking, and the public vote will account for the remaining 50% of the ranking. www.bdc.ca/yea

About BDC

Canada's business development bank, BDC, puts entrepreneurs first. With almost 2,000 employees and more than 100 business centres across the country, BDC offers loansconsulting services, growth and business transition capital, securitization, as well as venture capital to more than 30,000 small and medium‑sized companies. Their success is vital to Canada's economic prosperity. To learn more, please visit www.bdc.ca

 

SOURCE Business Development Bank of Canada

For further information: Maria Constantinescu, Senior Advisor, Public Relations, BDC, maria.constantinescu@bdc.ca, (514) 496-7146

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