A collaboration between City of Powell River and several organizations is addressing challenging times for businesses.
In partnership with Community Futures Powell River, First Credit Union, Coastline Colab and Spring Activator, the Resilient Powell River Program was launched to support businesses looking to survive in new conditions, and be successful in the future.
“As partners, we’re able to provide this online program for free to businesses,” explains Scott Randolph, city director of properties, development and communications. “They can choose which pieces are important to them and take their time to do it.”
The program is designed for all business owners, new or established, not only to survive but to look for opportunities to grow, according to Spring Activator CEO Keith Ippel.
“It is designed to help over this COVID-19 crisis and a recession, so entrepreneurs and business owners can take advantage of it now, in September, next year, however long we need to journey through this,” says Ippel. “If the business is struggling the program provides tools to reset a plan. If the business is doing well, the program has tools to plan for growth and specific pieces to help it further transform digitally.”
Businesses can take two approaches to the program, which encompasses four main components: assessing the current situation; rebuilding the plan; running the plan; and funding the plan.
“Businesses looking for immediate spot help, like sales or marketing, can go directly to those sections and get specific help,” adds Ippel. “Or they can go from top to bottom.”
Entrepreneurs will also be able to join biweekly support calls, which Spring Activator hosts province-wide.
“They can ask any questions, and guest speakers cover a range of topics from fundraising to sales to online marketing to leadership, and everything in-between,” says Ippel.
Randolph says Coastline Colab had an established partnership with Spring Activator for other programming, but due to COVID-19, needed to pivot and deliver programming for all existing businesses.
“Coastline is a product of our creative economy and innovation strategy that the city, VIU, qathet Regional District, Tla’amin Nation and SD47 worked on, along with funding from Island Coastal Economic Trust,” says Randolph. “First Credit Union is a natural; they had a strong interest in supporting the business community, and Community Futures has been a good partner from the get-go, since COVID-19, working with the city through its business retention and expansion program, talking to businesses and gathering information to understand what is going on so we can formulate support plans.”
For owners of small and medium-sized businesses negatively impacted by the pandemic, a fund is available through Community Futures.
“Rural small businesses that may not qualify for other federal business support can apply for partially forgivable loans of up to $40,000, says Community Futures executive director Allison Boulanger. “Any business within our region is eligible to apply. For information about the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund, go to prfutures.ca or call 604. 485.7901.”
Boulanger says financial assistance is only the beginning for a small business to survive and reopen with the ability to operate in a new way.
“How will your business adapt to change?” she adds. “Federal loans are repayable, so how does your business pivot to generate income needed to sustain your business in the future? This is the time to review and update your business plan.”