It is staggering to think that business owners and the community at large have been navigating the pandemic for two years.
Despite that ongoing reality and coupled with the myriad natural disasters faced over the last year, we are proud of the resilience of our business community.
The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in Kamloops and the team at Community Futures Thompson Country has been fortunate to watch that spirit flourish through innovative new business concepts that are reflective of the ever-changing business environment.
Over the past year, we have helped 40 new entrepreneurs move from a business idea through the process of creating a comprehensive business plan and ultimately launching their new business into the local economy. We have also disbursed over $1 million in commercial loan funding and another $2.5 million in pandemic recovery financing.
The pandemic has certainly been difficult and we acknowledge and appreciate the work of entrepreneurs to keep the local economy moving.
Unfortunately, the pandemic has not been the only negative force impacting businesses in the Thompson region.
In an effort to support businesses impacted by natural disasters, the Community Futures Taking Care of Business program provided funding for business coaching, support and training to help mitigate the damage. A total of 594 businesses across B.C. were supported through the program, with 94 of them in the Thompson region. Additionally, we were able to support local businesses in pivoting their operational model to an online format when they, like many, were forced to close their storefronts for extended periods of time.
The federal government recently formed the Pacific Economic Development Agency (PacifiCan), which focuses on British Columbia's unique and evolving economy by supporting business innovation and community economic development unique to the province.
We anticipate programs like Taking Care of Business and other new initiatives will be forthcoming to ensure businesses that have suffered the most are given every opportunity to bounce back and thrive once again.
Although supporting businesses in crisis is a priority, we know new entrepreneurs also require support. Our Farmers’ Market Incubator Program was launched in 2021 and supported several new businesses with access to the Kamloops and other regional farmers’ markets. This initiative will continue in 2022 and we are eager to meet the new business owners who will access the program.
It has been encouraging to see the resilience and adaptability of the business community in how they have faced the litany of challenges over the past year and we at Community Futures Thompson Country have done our best to adapt to our new reality, as well.
Our business development workshops are fully integrated in an online learning environment, informing clients of the latest innovative business practices.
While there is no way to predict what the business community may face as we continue to navigate the pandemic, we know entrepreneurs will continue to pursue their business dreams and we will be here to support them. Whether you are brand new to business or looking to grow, our team of business experts is happy to discuss your business dreams and connect you with the necessary tools to make that dream a reality.
Blair Grey is the general manager of Community Futures Thompson Country.