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Entrepreneur has eyes on the big prize

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One local entrepreneur may soon have 100,000 more reasons to continue growing her business — but she needs the community’s help.

St. Vital resident Deena Caplette, 28, who owns Kid City in Winnipeg, was recently unveiled as a finalist in the Business Development Bank of Canada’s 2013 BDC Young Entrepreneur Award.

She is the sole representative from Manitoba on the short list of nine. Caplette is competing for a grand prize of $100,000 and a second prize of $25,000 in consulting services.

Kid City is an indoor play centre for children aged one to 12. The 10,500 sq.-ft. facility offers a long list of activities to promote physical and social development, including a three-level play structure with a separate toddler area, a laser maze, a sports court, an inflatable bouncer, air hockey and foosball tables, mini cars and a children’s library. There are also private party rooms suitable for birthdays, school functions and baby showers.

Voting for the award runs until noon on June 11 (EDT). One vote per person per day will permitted, organizers say. To vote, visit www.bdc.ca/yea

Caplette was raised in St. Vital and has wanted to be a business owner since her junior high school days.

She also went to the prestigious Yale University in the U.S. on a hockey scholarship, making her the first member of her family to attend university. "It was an unbelievable, fantastic four years," she said.

On her return to Winnipeg, Caplette saw a void in opportunities for her nieces and nephews to get exercise indoors, especially considering the unforgiving Manitoba climate.

"With such long, long winters, I believe it’s really important to stay active and physical and have something to do in wintertime," Caplette said.

"Time and time again parents say this is a great facility because their kids burn extra energy and sleep a whole night through, so I think of it as active health care."

Caplette opened her first Kid City location in September 2010 at 801 Century St. and her newest location at 550 Archibald St. in September 2012.

Caplette said part of the contest’s criterion was to submit a "turning point project."

She plans to start a marketing campaign to spread the word about Kid City’s second location and by increasing traffic to both locations, she aims to keep entrance fees affordable for families of all economic backgrounds.

"My business will grow and remain competitively priced," she said.

"My customers drive the direction of my business. It’s about families spending quality time together. For me, that’s good enough. I love what I do."

Caplette said if she wins the contest, she will celebrate by holding  free public events at both locations.

She is also offering prize incentives for voters on the businesses’ various social networking sites.

"It would be great to keep the prize in Manitoba," she said.

The winner and runner-up will be announced on June 17. To learn more about Kid City, visit www.kidcitywinnipeg.ca

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