Airdrie launches mentorship program for high-growth businesses

AIRDRIE, ALBERTA – Airdrie Economic Development has launched AdvanceSMART, a new mentorship program for Airdrie entrepreneurs who are experiencing high growth.

AdvanceSMART’s mentoring model is licensed from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston. MIT’s Venture Mentoring Service (VMS) program has been successfully operating for more than 20 years and Airdrie will be one of only four organizations offering the program in Alberta.

The program matches a business with a team of three to four mentors who provide guidance on developing growth strategies, tackling complex challenges and becoming a better business leader. This team mentoring approach is a unique methodology with proven advantages – providing entrepreneurs with a temporary board of advisors to help reach ambitious growth goals and build successful companies.

“It’s vital that we support existing businesses so they stay and thrive in Airdrie, acknowledging that 80-90 per cent of economic growth comes from within a community,” says Mayor Peter Brown. “We’re thrilled to be launching a new program that will help ensure we have the right support services businesses need to be successful.”

The new mentorship program was partially funded through the Government of Alberta Community and Regional Economic Support (CARES) program and will receive operational support from Community Futures Centre West. AdvanceSMART will compliment Airdrie’s successful entrepreneurial training program, SMARTstart, which is launching its tenth intake in 2023. SMARTstart provides participants with a one-to-one mentor, which is consistently rated as one of the most valuable aspects of the program.

“We’ve seen the incredible impact of mentorship on new businesses through our SMARTstart program and we heard from our community that they wanted more,” says Jessica Williamson, Economic Development Officer with the City of Airdrie. “We’re extremely excited to provide that same opportunity to support high growth businesses in our city with the help of a talented pool of volunteer mentors.”

AdvanceSMART was launched at AirdrieFEST this weekend, beginning with mentor recruitment. Entrepreneur recruitment will follow in November and December, with teams being formed in early 2023.

Airdrie’s mentorship programs are promoted by the Airdrie Entrepreneur Common, a non-profit society founded in 1995 providing resources, training and mentorship to support the start-up and growth needs of Airdrie small businesses. To learn more about Airdrie’s mentorship programs and volunteer opportunities, visit

The pilot program is part of the continued implementation of Airdrie’s Economic Strategy: 2018-2028. The new mentorship program supports the Right for Business objective, which aims to retain and grow Airdrie businesses and attract new investment.