For over 30 years, Community Futures Central Okanagan has helped thousands of businesses start, grow and prosper in good times and bad. Over the past year COVID-19 has caused disruption for many businesses and Community Futures has been busy delivering emergency loans through the Rural Relief and Recovery Fund to help businesses impacted by the pandemic. To date, more than 100 local businesses have accessed over $3M in RRRF loans. See what two Central Okanagan businesses have to say about Community Futures.
April 8, 2021 - The B.C. government will provide more than $50 million to help the 14,000 restaurants, bars, breweries, wineries, gyms and fitness centres affected by the March 30, 2021, provincial health orders.
“We understand how greatly this group of businesses have been, and continue to be, impacted by the pandemic,” said Premier John Horgan. “This grant will provide the funds these businesses need to help them through this extraordinary time. As a community, we have come so far together in this fight against COVID-19. Let’s stay the course and we will get through this together.”
The new Circuit Breaker Business Relief Grant will provide affected businesses with up to $10,000 in one-time funding to help with expenses like rent, insurance, employee wages, maintenance and utilities. The grant can also help cover unexpected costs that resulted from the restrictions, such as the purchase of perishable goods.
“Our commitment to support businesses is unwavering and our work to ensure that they have every opportunity to get past this pandemic will continue,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation. “We have reason to be hopeful and things will soon get better for all of us in British Columbia. In the meantime, our local businesses need us, and we need them. I encourage communities to BuyBC and shop local wherever you can.”
More than $50 million from the $345-million Small and Medium Sized Business Recovery Grant program has been set aside for businesses through the Circuit Breaker Business Relief Grant. The individual amount a business receives will be based on the number of employees.
The Circuit Breaker Business Relief Grant is open to eligible businesses of any size that have been in operation since Feb. 1, 2021. To ensure affected businesses can access the funds quickly, the Circuit Breaker Business Relief Grant has a streamlined application.
“COVID-19 has presented significant challenges for everyone in the restaurant industry,” said Mark von Schellwitz, Restaurants Canada vice-president, Western Canada. “We appreciate that the B.C. government continues to find ways to help the hospitality sector. This new grant will be of great benefit to many restaurants as they continue to adapt and change in response to the pandemic.”
Applications for the Circuit Breaker Business Relief Grant are expected to open the week of April 12, 2021.
Community Futures of the Central Okanagan has been operating the Business Plan Development Program since 1992, with nearly 2,000 start-ups coming through the program throughout that time. Participants receive business plan development assistance, a variety a business skills development workshops, one-on-one mentoring, and business counselling over a six-week period. Past participants have credited the program with giving them “the practical tools to move my business from the dream stage to an active money earning enterprise”, and have called the program a “critical component” in their business success and “an invaluable source of inspiration, expertise, and guidance.” The peer-to-peer learning has supported past participants in “getting tips, fostering camaraderie, making new connections, and re-energizing.”
While the program has typically been offered primarily to new start-ups and aspiring entrepreneurs, the need for training and support for existing businesses has become vital. The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented effect on local businesses and entrepreneurs, resulting in the need for flexibility and creativity, and forcing many to pivot their business models, service offerings, and approach. These pivots require the support of market validation, financial viability testing, and business planning.
To address this need, Community Futures is expanding the Business Plan Development Program to both new and existing businesses. Participants will benefit from effective and realistic opportunity assessment, comprehensive business plan development, collaboration with peers, and real life experiential learning in hands-on workshops. Existing businesses will gain support in assessing their potential pivots or new service offerings, and building this into a practical plan to guide their business in a pandemic-affected marketplace. The program is currently offered in a virtual classroom format and delivered on a flexible schedule that allows for participants to continue working in their businesses while still attending class discussions. The program is open to for-profits, non-profits, social enterprises, gig workers, and freelancers. Sponsorship and bursaries to cover the cost of the program are available through CFDC.
Beginning with the Opportunity Readiness Workshop, participants will assess the feasibility of their opportunity and their own entrepreneurial skills. From there, a needs assessment and application is completed. This process ensures participants are properly qualified and prepared to proceed with the six-week program.
Interested business owners and entrepreneurs can visit www.cfdcco.com/services/workshops-a-training or call Ali Brent, Program Manager at Community Futures of the Central Okanagan at 250-868-2132 ext. 224 for further program details.
Small business owners from across the Okanagan-Shuswap region have the chance to participate in three days of development workshops and connect with peers from across the valley as Community Futures hosts a virtual version of Small Business Week events.
“Small Business Week is an important business development opportunity that our community looks forward to every year, so this year we decided to host it virtually due to COVID-19,” says Larry Widmer, General Manager of Community Futures Central Okanagan. “We’re excited to be bringing together some talented presenters and attendees who might not otherwise have the chance to network and discuss opportunities.”
“Many of this year’s sessions will focus on topics that are timely as businesses navigate operations during COVID-19, and we also have a nice balance of topics that are important building blocks and best practices in general,” says Widmer, who has been working with his Community Futures peers from Salmon Arm to Penticton to organize the event.
The virtual valley-wide Community Futures Small Business Week events run Oct. 20-22 with seminars in the morning, interactive breakout groups in the afternoon and virtual networking opportunities throughout the day.
Community Futures Valley-wide Virtual Small Business Week
Tuesday, Oct. 20
Sponsored by BDO
Preparing for tax season
Entrepreneur’s Exit: Steps to your Sale
Strategy for Small Businesses
Entrepreneur’s Financial Literacy: How to Tackle and Take Control of Your Debt
An Entrepreneur’s Financial Check-Up
Wednesday, Oct. 21
Sponsored by Vantage Credit Union
Digital marketing: The big picture
Cyber-Security for Small Business
Thursday, Oct. 22
Supporting your team during a pandemic
Creating a workplace that people want to work in
Managing Bullying/Harassment complaints and mental injury claims
Community Futures is a community based organization that contributes to the social and economic well being of the Central Okanagan by providing small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs access to services tailored to individual needs. From financing to training programs, Community Futures is a full support centre for new and existing businesses.
For more information, media can contact:
250-868-2132 ext. 223