Business Forward!

The innovation and entrepreneurial spirit of the business leaders in Strathcona County excites me.  Having been a proud Chamber of Commerce member for the past six years, I commend their efforts to support our community.  In any municipality, the Chamber is a cornerstone to building a strong future for business.

I like the green technology focus that the Chamber is taking. The Chamber’s Green Technology committee is extremely strong with local business leaders who are active in representing Strathcona County on the international scene. I believe this committee could be the base for a start-up business incubator, perhaps using a similar model to Edmonton’s to ignite creativity and entrepreneurial thinking.

The Chamber goes beyond the usual youth hire programs to support youth in the preparing of resumes and the Career Test Drive program. Their business to business mentoring program is growing in strength and effectiveness.

What’s just as exciting is the emergence of other players in business development, support and innovation.

A local group of women got together this Spring to discuss the challenges and opportunities of running small businesses in Strathcona County. I understand that they now meet every month to provide an informal mentorship of like minded business women.

Green Hectares is one of those that is offering encouragement to local entrepreneurs. They are identifying gaps and solutions to promote agribusiness in our municipality.

Looking at Strathcona County business landscape, I see plenty of retail thanks to the efforts of the Strathcona County Economic Development department. I hear from the Chamber that small to medium business office space is in high demand but I see a lack of concentration and resources going into supporting the growth of these small to medium businesses both in our rural entrepreneurs. That is a direction that this municipality needs to champion.

I hope that both our urban and rural business facilitation groups will look at other efforts being made around the province. For example, Rocky Mountain House recently created a business incubator that might have some options that could works in our specialized municipality. Their Initial investment of $50,000 seems to be on target to reach project sustainability beyond the initial 24 months. It is a one-stop access to information, advice, business training and research services to entrepreneurs and business owners.

Entrepreneurs and home business are welcome to share the amenities of administrative equipment, common meeting room, and retail space. There is private secure office space, and shared cost of utilities a well as opportunities for workshops. This is meant to be a stepping stone from a home basement to public space. New jobs are generated and a demand for new business condo spaces occurs.

We are innovate, creative, and amazing.  Let’s keep up the good work!

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