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Community Futures Wildrose rural initiatives

By Monique Massiah, Strathmore Standard

There are a number of opportunities available for entrepreneurs seeking to move forward, with the help of Community Futures Wildrose. The non-profit organization was profiled during the regular meeting of Wheatland County council on June 5.

 

Wendy Gerbrandt and David Petrovich from Community Futures Wildrose gave a presentation to county council on the status of the organization and the services offered to the community.

The pair highlighted some of their rural programs and services and gave a brief history of the organization. The program was funded by the Federal Government through the office of Western Economic Diversification Canada.

Community Futures Wildrose was established in 1986. “It is a rural program meant for rural entrepreneurs,” said Gerbrandt.

“Our vision is full employment in thriving communities,” said Petrovich. “Our mission is to promote, assist and retain economic development and employment activities and activities within the region,” he said.

Wheatland County council member Amber Link is the Community Futures Wildrose board member representative for the county. “The board and all of our shareholders are here to help optimize the use of our $6 million investment fund,” said Petrovich. The board is made up of 15 elected officials from the shareholder communities, which includes Wheatland County.

Gerbrandt thanked the county for their support over the years.

They gave a bit of detail about the investment fund where they hand out about $6.4 million in loans.

The pair listed a few of Community Futures' general priorities, such as economic growth and development.

“Western Economic Diversification Canada has identified three strategic priorities going into our new fiscal, indigenous and women, youth and persons with disabilities and cluster growth through clean technology, value added agriculture, advanced manufacturing, digital industries, clean resources and health biosciences,” said Gerbrandt.

Petrovich went into more detail about Community Futures Wildrose, which is located in Strathmore.

“We are rural and we do focus on rural, that is our mandate,” he stressed.

In terms of services, they offer business loans from a $6.4 million investment fund, offer business training workshops, planning and counselling, and community economic development training.”We have helped out countless numbers of businesses in our region, with understanding how to be an entrepreneur,” said Petrovich.

“We try to stimulate the economy from the grassroots up,” said Petrovich. Funding parsed out to the community over the years roughly translates to almost $300 per capita, or $2.6 million invested into the local community and Wheatland County.

Gerbrandt highlighted a few of the current partnerships held within private industry like the metal fabrication industry, and initiatives like Alberta Open Farm Days, and projects with Alberta Culture and Tourism.

They also offer a number of opportunities for youth like the Rotary Alberta Youth Entrepreneur Camp, and business training like the annual Chinook Entrepreneurship Challenge, The Community Futures Training Program, and partnerships with Junior Achievement of Southern Alberta.

Petrovich asked members of council and staff to refer individuals who may be interested in entrepreneurship, or expanding their business to them.

“We need your help as well getting the word out and bringing them to our door,” he said.

“Please help us so we can help you,” he said.

Petrovich explained that Wheatland County is also a shareholder in Community Futures Wildrose.

 



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