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Community Futures Alberta Southwest Completes Two Year Business Visitation Program

By: James Tessier, Community Economic Development Coordinator, CFABSW

Community Futures Alberta Southwest (CFABSW) has recently completed its three-year business visitation program (BVP).

Over the three year period from July 2011 to April 2013 the program attempted contact with over 1040 businesses in the CFABSW region.  It arranged and completed 640 interviews with businesses owners and managers in the eight jurisdictions which make up the CFABSW region.

The interviews, conducted by BVP Coordinator James Tessier, invited businesses to provide feedback on a number of issues related to their business needs. Owners and managers were asked to address issues that ranged from basic business activities, to market conditions and the company’s primary market base, to labour force requirements, and the community’s strengths and weaknesses as a place to do business.

The information gathered during the brief 20 to 30 minutes surveys has been used to develop five summary reports, one for each of the component projects of the program.  To date, public and stakeholder meetings have been held in most of the communities where the studies were conducted to share results and receive further feedback from businesses and other groups at a community level.

Understanding that small and medium-sized enterprises are catalysts in our communities, with between 50 and 80 percent of all new jobs are generated by these businesses, the objective of the program was to develop a comprehensive, accurate picture of what businesses in the region required to grow and identify where potential for growth exists.

The organization wanted to gauge the pulse of the business communities in the region, while at the same time inform them of the resources and products Community Futures can offer them, and equip municipal leaders and economic development professionals with the information they need to make informed decisions about what affects our business community.

Red flag issues were identified and addressed by CFABSW staff as the program progressed.  Requests for business loan information and assistance, a key component of Community Future’s services, were sent to 31 businesses in the region.  Responses to 158 requests for information and assistance from businesses on various topics were handled by CFABSW staff during the project period.

Presently, information from the summary reports is being used by Community Futures and its partner stakeholders to develop new projects, further existing projects, and address local development needs.

For further information on project results visit the CFABSW website at southwest.albertacf.com/resources, or phone 403-627-3020, (toll free) 1-800-565-4416.

 

Chamber to expand Junior Achievement

By: Frank McTighe – Editor, Fort Macleod Gazette

August 7, 2013

Fort Macleod Chamber of Commerce will offer more money management and investment courses at F.P. Walshe School.

Chamber members decided Thursday during the monthly meeting to expand its Junior Achievement offerings to three courses.  Chamber members on Thursday talked about the proposal and decided to offer the three courses at F.P. Walshe School beginning this fall.

Junior Achievement Southern Alberta was established in 1960 with a goal of inspiring and educating young people to succeed in the global economy.  Junior Achievement helps young people understand business and economics, and develop entrepreneurial and leadership skills.

One course, “Dollars and Sense” helps students explore money management, budgeting and investing.  The course encourages students to set goals and make informed decisions about their financial future.

James Tessier, a business analyst with Community Futures Alberta Southwest, was part of a team that won an award at the Economic Developers Association event. Tessier received $500 and decided to use that money to leverage more education opportunities in the region.  “He wants to do something good with [the award],” Community Futures Alberta Southwest General Manager said.

Walker explained Tessier is putting forward a proposal to Talisman Energy to fund additional Junior Achievement courses in Fort Macleod and Pincher Creek.  Tessier’s proposal will be to use his $500 dollars and [the contributions from the two Chambers and local businesses] and ask Talisman to match it with $2500.

“What we’re down to is trying to raise money for it or get sponsors,” Chamber president Terry Daniels said.

Rural Alberta Business Centre small business advisor Srecko Ponjavic offered to contribute $500 towards the project.

The Chamber now has to chip in $1,000 or find corporate sponsors to contribute that amount.

Chamber Backs “Think Local First’ Plan

By: Frank McTighe – Editor, Fort Macleod Gazette

July 10, 2013

Fort Macleod Chamber of Commerce will join a regional initiative to get people to shop locally.

Chamber president Terry Daniel and past president Srecko Ponjavic learned last month of the Pincher Creek’s “Think Local First” campaign.  The campaign is designed to promote local business to encourage people to shop locally instead of going to the city.  “We felt this was an initiative that could go right across the southwest,” Daniel said.

Daniel and Ponjavic provided an update on the program Thursday during the Chamber’s July luncheon meeting at the Rural Alberta Business Centre.  The two Fort Macleod representatives learned about the “Think Local First” campaign at a regional Chamber meeting in June.  “We thought maybe we could tie this in with Fort Macleod” Daniel said,  Ponjavic agreed.  “Immediately I thought this was very expandable,” Ponjavic said.

The program would consist of “Think Local First” branding and promotional materials such as posters and stickers.  Ponjavic, who is [the] small business advisor at the Rural Alberta Business Centre, has made some recommendations to the Pincher Creek Chamber on how to expand the program.  “I think it looks pretty sharp,” said Ponjavic.

The poster outlines the top 10 reasons for shopping locally:

  1. Shopping locally can save money – Does this mean that it is never worthwhile to shop outside the community?  No.  What it means is travel time, parking, cost of gas, and the fees to transport larger items home can end up being more than you bargained for.
  2. It is good for the environment – Less transportation, lower energy and fuel costs; less excessive packaging...you get the idea.
  3. You help sustain our community – When you start spending at a locally owned business almost 70 percent of that money stays at home and is distributed back into our community.
  4. You would miss local businesses if they were gone – Think not? Imagine if you couldn’t run down the street for gas, groceries, coffee with friends or for that last minute gift.  Take time to appreciate the businesses in our community because odds are you would miss them if they were gone.
  5. You get better service – Local businesses are more likely to provide you with exceptional customer service and are willing to cater to your needs.
  6. Discover a great array of products and services – Many people get out of the habit of shopping locally and then are surprised at the range of products, gifts and services that are found just around the corner.  Give locals a chance first.
  7. Help create more jobs in our community – Local spending has a direct impact on job creation and employment in our community.  Small local businesses are a large employer nationally and in our community, providing most of the jobs to residents.
  8. Improve community investment – Local businesses are way more likely to support our community groups and organizations.  Think about who supports your kids’ sports team or school.  Odds are they are businesses right here at home.
  9. Shopping, living and playing locally keeps our tax dollars here – Shopping locally means less corporate infrastructure, and more money left available to enhance our community.  By spending locally, your tax dollars are reinvested where they belong; right here at home.
  10. Protect your property values – No one wants to live in a community where there are no businesses or recreational activities.  When you choose to spend locally you support the infrastructure that makes other people want to call our town home.  For you this means your local home or property has greater value.

“The main goal is to get another touch, another presence in the community,” Ponjavic said.  “Thi idea is to think local first.”  Ponavic will work with the Chamber to roll out the program in the fall.

”I think this is a good idea,” Chamber member Sharon Lecocq said.

Keeping It Local

Pincher Creek Co-op Part of a Pilot Project to Highlight Locally Produced Products

Bryan Passifiume – Editor, Pincher Creek Echo

July 10, 2013

Shopping ‘local’ is more than just a trendy fad.

More and more people are making a concerted effort to spend their grocery money on locally grown or manufactured products -- even before Canadian bestsellers like The 100-Mile Diet made us take a closer look at where our food comes from.

The Localize Your Food project is an initiative to provide shoppers with information about where their food comes from, and rates each product with a score based on where it was produced, who owns the company and where the ingredients came from -- all based on the location of the store.

“There are different reasons why customers are interested in local,” said Meghan Dear, founder of Localize your Food. “Some of it is about freshness and quality. For a lot of people it’s about knowing where their dollars are going, and trying to keep their dollars invested close to home.”

Others, she says, are interested in knowing where their food comes from.

Pincher Creek Co-Op is one of the newest stores to take part in the program.  Visitors to the store will notice orange tags affixed on shelves and displays throughout the store. The tags contain the product’s Localize your Food score and a scannable QR code.  Shoppers can use their smartphones to scan the QR code to get information on the product and get a more in-depth explanation of the product’s score.  For Co-op’s grocery manager Clayton LeJan, getting involved with the project was a no-brainer.  “It supports the local people of Pincher Creek,” he said, stating that shoppers do make concerted efforts to buy locally-produced groceries.

LeJan said that he was surprised at how highly some packaged foods rated on the scale.  “Cheemo perogies -- they are a local product,” he said. “They’re made in Calgary. Some stuff we know is local, such as our carrots, but it’s surprising to see the ones that aren’t.”

Produce manager Shannon Donovan is especially pleased with the program, as she has always strived to ensure her produce is locally sourced.  “My main focus is always going to be local grown,” she said, stating that she gets much of her local fruit and vegetables from local growers, including the local Hutterite colonies.  These local contributions include carrots, radishes, corn, spinach, garlic, peppers, potatoes, peas, beans and tomatoes.

Donovan said that her customers have long demanded to know where their produce comes from.  “People are so big on it,” she said.

Volunteers Enjoyed Junior Achievement

By: Frank McTighe – Editor, Fort Macleod Gazette

July 10, 2013

Sharon Lecocq received an education herself when she agreed to teach a Junior Achievement course to Grade 8 students at F. P. Walshe school.

Lecocq hsaid Thursdeay while the experience was enjoyable, she found out how challenging it can be at the head of the classroom.  “I have so much respect for teachers in that grade now,” Lecocq said with a laugh.“  It was very exciting.”

Lecocq provided an update at Thursday’s meeting [of the Fort Macleod & District] on the first Junior Achievement course offered at F.P. Walshe school.

Junior Achievement’s “Dollar and Sense” program was arranged by the Fort Macleod Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with the Rural Alberta Business Centre and Community Futures Alberta Southwest.  Volunteers Srecko Ponjavic, Brian Nelson, Sharon Lecocq, and Heidi Van Herk presented the course to two classes of grade eight students.

“Dollars and Sense” is intended to help students develop financial literacy.  The course encourages them to set goals and make informed decisions about their financial futures.  Students explored money management, budgeting and investing in the [program].

The “Dollars and Sense” course began with a 45-minute lesson titled “Let’s Talk Money,” followed bt another 45-minute lesson titled “Be a Smart Shopper.”  After a break, the students reconvened for a lesson titled “Look After Your Money,” followed by a final 45-minute session titled “Make Your Money Work”.

At the end of the day, students played a game of financial bingo to win prizes.

“I thought it was really good,” Ponjavic said.  “We will be looking to do more in the fall”

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Community Futures Alberta Southwest
436 – 24th Street (Macleod Blvd)
Box 1270
Fort Macleod, AB T0L 0Z0

403-553-0264 ext. 222
800-565-4418 ext. 222

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