Special to The Macleod Gazette
May 28, 2014
Small businesses can receive assistance in a variety of ways from Community Futures Alberta Southwest (CFABSW). The MD of Willow Creek learned more about [the organization and its programs] when Community Futures Alberta Southwest General Manager Tony Walker appeared as a delegation to the MD of Willow Creek Council meeting.
Community Futures is a federally-funded program started in 1992 as the Southwest Alberta Business Development Institute. It changed its name to Community Futures Alberta Southwest in 2007.
Community Futures Alberta Southwest is a non-profit organization guided by a volunteer board of directors. The MD of Willow Creek is represented by David Mullholland.
There are 27 Community Futures offices in Alberta. Each office receives an annual operating budget of $300,000 from the federal government. CFABSW has a 3.5-million dollar loan portfolio, with $1-million loaned out and $2.5-million ready to loan.
It is a business centre that makes loans up to $150,000 to individuals interested in stating, expanding or purchasing a business. CFABSW is a business development centre that provides business training, counselling, and coaching to individuals interested in starting a business.
Community Futures can also offer loans to businesses turned down by traditional lenders; and work creatively with financial institutions on joint financing.
The services offered by CFABSW are: individualized one-on-one counselling; ongoing coaching and mentoring; access to local business expertise through their referral network; a resource library; and regional economic development.
Its partners are Western Economic Development Canada; chambers of commerce; economic development officers and committees; municipal councils; and regional economic development alliances. From 1995 to 2013 about six percent of its loans went to businesses in the MD of Willow Creek.
Its current programs are: development of a foreign direct investment strategy; the Alberta Youth Entrepreneurship Camp; the Chinook Entrepreneur Challenge; a business visitation program; and the GOForth Institute training program.