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.