Entrepreneurial dentist gives Bedford South a brighter smile – Vote for Nova Scotia’s finalist in the race for the $100,000 BDC Young Entrepreneur Award Grand Prize

The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) announced today that the turning-point project, “Brighter Smiles,” submitted by local businesswoman Paula MacPherson, will represent Nova Scotia in the finals of the 2014 BDC Young Entrepreneur Award (BDC YEA).

Paula’s project would see the dentistry practice she launched three years ago, Southgate Dentistry, double its facilities to serve a rapidly growing suburban community in need of specialized dental services. To claim the $100,000 Grand Prize and continue growing her new practice, Paula needs votes from Canadians coast-to-coast.

Paula is one of a rare breed – a dentist entrepreneur. In an industry where a young dentist typically takes over the established practice of a retiring dentist, Paula defied convention and started her own practice from scratch, built on a commitment to provide quality care for families in a warm and relaxed environment. For a new dental practice, startup costs are high due to equipment costs and significant overhead associated with dentistry. Before the first patients had even walked in the door, Paula had amassed considerable debt. She and her team have gradually built trust and credibility with the community. But even so, cash flow remains tight.

“When I set up this office, I built five treatment rooms, but outfitted only two,” says Paula. “We’ve reached that critical point where we need to equip two more rooms to service growing demand but we don’t have the cash flow to do so and have also exhausted all conventional financing options. This hurdle is preventing the business from becoming a successful operation that can adequately service the needs of our community.”

Paula started her own practice because she found few opportunities in the Halifax area to take over an established practice with a stable patient base.  Meanwhile, suburban communities such as Bedford South continue to grow. Wait times for preventative dental care are growing longer, emergency appointments are harder to come by, and many young families are in need of education to properly manage their children’s oral health.

With two more treatment rooms, Paula can see more patients in a day, hire a second hygienist, and offer more emergency services. This will allow her young practice, which already takes pride in providing quality care with a small-town feel, to offer more timely and effective care to the residents of Bedford South.

“Each of this year’s finalists has shared 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. “Paula’s fearless leap shows that entrepreneurship is a quality that defies industries or disciplines when it is put at the service of a growing community.”

“At our current pace, it will take us five years to boost operational capacity, but our community can’t wait that long,” says Paula. “With your vote, we can keep building this practice to ensure that all residents of Bedford South are smiling.”

Voting for the 2014 BDC Young Entrepreneur Award contest runs from May 29 to June 12 at noon. To support your favourite project, log into the contest website and vote once a day. Follow the contest through updates on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Visit bdc.ca/awards to learn other ways in which BDC recognizes Canadian entrepreneurs. The BDC Young Entrepreneur Award winner and runner-up will be announced on June 18. The runner-up will receive $25,000 in consulting services offered by BDC.

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.  This year, nine finalists were selected to compete for a $100,000 Grand Prize. A second prize of $25,000 in consulting services offered by BDC will be awarded to the contest runner-up. For the first time in 2014, a national committee evaluated the quality of the finalist projects and gave each finalist a ranking that will be combined with the public vote. The national committee evaluation was weighted to account for 30% of each project’s final ranking and the public vote will account for the remaining 70% 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 financing, subordinate financing, venture capital, securitization and consulting services to more than 28,000 small and medium-sized companies. Their success is vital to Canada’s economic prosperity.

SOURCE  Business Development Bank of Canada

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