Community Futures Wild Rose was recently in Ottawa to take part in a national event that gathered the more than 200 Community Futures organization from across Canada.
The 2022 Community Futures national event was held from May 8 to 10 in Ottawa and was the first such event to take place since prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Across Canada, there are a total of 216 Community Futures offices servicing rural areas. Of these, 27 are in service within Alberta.
Chantale Sangster, executive director of Community Futures Wild Rose, said the team was excited to attend once again, share their knowledge and network with fellow offices.
“We had several different seminars and there were some roundtable discussions just to talk to the other executive directors from other offices and just talk about best practices, how we’re doing things and learn from one another,” said Sangster. “Because we are all the way from one coast to the other across the country, for us to have that opportunity to get together and learn from one another, it was so much information.”
Community Futures was established in 1985 by the federal government as an economic development initiative. The aim is to strengthen and diversify the local economies of rural communities.
Sangster explained this year has been a particularly good one for the Wild Rose chapter and they are excited with the amount of support they have been able to provide.
“We have had our strongest year delivering community economic development projects … we really have been supporting agritourism producers in our region for a number of years — this is our third progressive project in supporting Agri-tourism in our region,” said Sangster. “Amber (Link) did speak with our MP, and she identified that this year we won an award at the Economic Developers Association (EDA) conference for our Agri-tourism project.”
Sangster clarified the Wild Rose chapter did not win a similar award at the national conference in Ottawa.
“To be recognized provincially for the work that we are doing in our area, we were extremely humbled and very proud of our work that we have done with our producers here in our area,” said Sangster also explaining that currently Community Futures Wild Rose has roughly $6 million in loans distributed throughout their service region.
This is something she hopes will only grow as the year progresses and more businesses may be supported by the program.
“We just did a new strategic plan — we just finished our strategic plan for 2022 to 2025 with our board … so we are very excited about the new focus that they have for us.”
“We have a very healthy investment account right now, so we are totally ready to invest more in our communities through loans, a renewed focus on doing more training and workshops and really bringing that education piece to our businesses, and really focussing on our business coaching.”
John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times